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Homeless man fighting murder charge
Police at the scene of the unit fire. Picture: John Mokrzycki/The West Australian

A homeless man has gone on trial fighting an allegation he murdered a Mosman Park man who offered him and his dog a place to stay.

Phillip John Smith, 30, went on trial in the Supreme Court today having pleaded not guilty to murdering Damian Andrew Noakes, 31, whose body was discovered inside a burnt out Mosman Park unit in June 2012.

The jury has been told Mr Smith and Mr Noakes had met at a Fremantle outreach centre only the day before the killing.

Opening the prosecution case, lawyer Adam Hills-Wright told the jury Mr Noakes body was discovered in the burnt out unit and he had a number of injuries, including five penetrating stab wounds to the right side of his neck. Police discovered a knife embedded in his neck.

Mr Smith, who has pleaded guilty to an arson charge, admits he killed Mr Noakes but denies a more serious charge of murder.

Mr Hills-Wright said Mr Noakes had offered Mr Smith a couch to sleep on after discovering he was homeless when they met at the outreach centre.

Mr Noakes' body was discovered on the afternoon of June 28, 2012- the day after Mr Smith is alleged to have murdered him.

The prosecution alleges Mr Smith doused the unit and a doona he used to cover the body in petrol and turned on gas knobs inside the unit before he lit a match and left the unit.

Mr Hills-Wright said the fire was intense and blew out windows and glass sliding doors.

The jury has been told Mr Smith initially denied any involvement in Mr Noakes' death when he was interviewed by police.

Mr Smith and Mr Noakes had had dinner together, after which Mr Smith broke down about his daughter.

Mr Noakes grabbed Mr Smith by the ears and shook his head, telling him to “man up” and “snap out of it”.

Mr Smith later told police the next thing he remembered was standing over Mr Noakes' body, telling officers he must have snapped but had no memory of the incident.

In her address to the jury, Mr Smith's lawyer said her client denied an intention to kill or cause life-threatening injuries to Mr Noakes.

She said it was admitted it had been a serious and sustained attack but Mr Smith, to this day, had no recollection of what happened.

The State alleges Mr Noakes was assaulted with a knife and another weapon, possibly a wooden coffee table leg.

The jury was told that in addition to the multiple stab wounds, Mr Noakes also had a fractured nose and lower jaw, a number of superficial scratch-like injuries and his right Achilles' tendon was cut.

The trial continues.