The mother of a woman allegedly murdered by her boyfriend has been questioned over her daughter’s “sugar daddy” relationship with a brothel owner.
On Tuesday, a Victorian Supreme Court jury was played the recorded evidence of Tracey Gangell whose daughter, Ellie Price, was allegedly killed in April 2020.
Ms Price’s former boyfriend, Ricardo Barbaro, is facing trial over the 26-year-old’s death and has pleaded not guilty.
In the video, Ms Gangell was questioned by Mr Barbaro’s barrister Rishi Nathwani about Ms Price’s relationship with a man called Mark Gray.
Mr Nathwani told the court the pair met while Ms Price was working as a dancer at a Melbourne strip club, with Mr Gray soon beginning to financially support her.
He suggested text messages between Mr Gray and Ms Gangell indicated that he was “spending a lot of money on Ellie”, including paying her rent, a $1000 weekly allowance and giving her a Mercedes-Benz.
Ms Gangell described their relationship as “exceptionally close” friends but said she didn’t know if there was anything else to their relationship other than financial support.
Ms Price was found with her throat cut and multiple stab wounds in the bedroom of her Park St, South Melbourne apartment on May 4.
Prosecutors, led by Damien Hannan, allege Mr Barbaro killed Ms Price during a violent altercation six days earlier in the early hours of April 29.
In his opening address, Mr Hannan said the case would be built on DNA evidence at the crime scene, a history of alleged violence between the pair and Mr Barbaro’s “conduct” after the alleged offending.
He told the jury that CCTV captured Ms Price’s Mercedes-Benz leaving the property at 4.30am never to return, and Mr Barbaro’s mobile phone records would place his phone “in the vicinity” of the Mercedes-Benz as it travelled through Melbourne’s northern suburbs.
In his opening address on Monday, Mr Nathwani said questions would be raised about whether others had a motive for Ms Price’s death.
“To be clear, this is a whodunit, that is Mr Barbaro denies that he killed Ellie Price,” he said.
“Did she upset anyone to a degree they would want to harm her?”
Questioning Ms Gangell, Mr Nathwani suggested her daughter‘s relationship with Mr Gray had soured in early 2020.
He read text messages between Ms Gangell and Mr Gray from early April where Mr Gray alleged Ms Price had attempted to extort $100,000 from him by threatening to make a rape report with police.
Ms Gangell told the jury that she did not believe her daughter would attempt to extort Mr Gray.
“Ellie would never say anything like what was in that email,” she said.
“I don‘t believe she made that on her own.
“Ellie was a nice girl, she had a heart of gold and I can’t see her throw away a good friend like that.”
The trial, before Justice Lex Lasry, continues.