Body washed in bath for a week before being chopped up, dumped

A Melbourne man brutally murdered his housemate and kept his victim’s body in a bathtub for a week, washing him regularly to hide the smell, a court alleges.

Brendan David Bernard’s body parts were discovered in the Maribyrnong River, in Melbourne's north west on February 5.

Con George Spaliaras, Matthew David Brennan and Edward Lionel Hill, all of North Melbourne, are on trial after pleading not guilty to murdering Mr Bernard, 32.

Brendan David Bernard’s dismembered body was dumped in a Melbourne River in February 2015. Picture: 7 News

Three men are accused of assaulting Mr Bernard on January 27 in the flat he shared with Mr Brennan, killing him and, after leaving him for a week, chopping him up and disposing of his remains.

The Supreme Court Jury was told on Tuesday Mr Bernard was dismembered in February last year, a week after his murderer allegedly washed the decaying stench from his body until he determined how to dispose of it.

Mr Brennan allegedly dumped Mr Bernard's remains in the river, except his hands and feet - which were thrown in garbage bins because he thought the body parts could be used to identify the victim.

Police recovered his remains after a passer-by spotted an arm near the Maribyrnong River. Picture: 7 News

The plan became undone on February 5, when a passer-by walking near the river discovered an arm with a distinctive tattoo of a devil wearing jeans and holding a spray can.

Chief Crown Prosecutor Gavin Silbert, QC, told the jury there was “nothing very sophisticated or clever” about the murder.

Mr Bernard was identified after an image of the tattoo was released to the media, encouraging a public appeal.

A woman will tell a murder trial she was in a Melbourne flat when the victim was tortured and killed, the court heard.

Prosecutor Gavin Silbert QC on Tuesday said the trio were charged after the woman, known for legal reasons as KJ, spoke to police.

Homicide detectives interviewed Mr Spaliaras and Mr Brennan, who told them Mr Bernard was a drug dealer and had "done a runner" after two men turned up angry that he sold them "bad shit".

The Crown alleges the three men were ransacking Mr Bernard's bedroom when he came home.

KJ, who was also present, was told to stay in the kitchen as they beat and cut Mr Bernard, the jury heard.

Spaliaras came into the kitchen at one point wanting to have sex with KJ, Mr Silbert said.

He asked Mr Brennan if he minded, and Mr Brennan said no, at which point Hill said he wanted to leave, prompting Mr Brennan to say nobody could leave.

"All three were involved," Mr Silbert said.

The killer's plan came undone when this tattoo lead to the identity of Brendan David Bernard’s body. Picture: Victoria Police

It's alleged that by this point, Mr Bernard was not making any noise so KJ went into the bathroom where she saw Mr Bernard had a rope around his neck.

She could not find a pulse and Mr Spaliaras said to her, "Here, have a pull of the dog," Mr Silbert told the jury.

An upstairs neighbour will give evidence he could hear someone struggling to breathe and moaning before eventually going quiet, Mr Silbert said.

A week later, Mr Spaliaras allegedly told KJ he and Mr Brennan had cut up the body.

A forensic examination found traces of the deceased man's blood on a vacuum cleaner Mr Brennan sold to Cash Converters, Mr Silbert said.

Defence barristers for Mr Spaliaras, Mr Brennan and Mr Hill is expected to address the jury on Wednesday.