12 Feb 2015

Change of plea on eve of murder trial

3:14 pm on 12 February 2015

A man charged with murdering his on-again-off-again girlfriend has abruptly admitted the charge on the eve of a major trial in Christchurch.

Timothy Foley in the High Court at Christchurch on Wednesday.

Timothy Foley in the High Court at Christchurch on Wednesday. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

Timothy Joseph Foley, 54, had earlier denied murdering 41-year-old Michelle Mary Lawrence in 2012.

She was also his next door neighbour.

A trial was due to begin yesterday at the High Court at Christchurch but that case was deferred for administrative reasons.

There were further discussions between defence and prosecution lawyers this morning and then Foley announced he would plead guilty.

His lawyer Simon Shamy said no summary of the facts was read to the court.

This is because some details of the facts surrounding the murder are still contested.

But he said once these facts are agreed then sentencing will go ahead, with it set down for 6 March.

Foley had been in an intermittent relationship with Ms Lawrence, who died in hospital several days after being assaulted.

An earlier attempt to bring him to trial last year was aborted and the jury was dismissed with the judge suppressing the reasons why.