A homeless man charged with the murder and rape of a 32-year-old Hong Kong woman in a Melbourne park last week had a history of drug abuse, an Australian court heard on Wednesday.
Pastry chef Renea Lau Yuk-ling was attacked as she made her way to work through Melbourne’s botanical gardens in the east side of the city in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Her naked body was found under a tree later that morning by joggers.
Her alleged killer, Scott Allen Miller, 42, was arrested on Monday after a three-day manhunt by police found him sleeping rough in Eden, a coastal town 500km away in New South Wales.
The California-born man, who is believed to have been living homeless on the streets of Melbourne for the past two months, was charged at Melbourne’s Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday with one count of murder and two counts of rape.
His lawyer, Sarah Pratt, told the court that although her client had previously been diagnosed with drug-induced psychosis, he had no criminal record, The Australian reported.
Miller has been remanded in custody until his next court appearance on October 24.
It is believed that Lau’s family has already flown from Hong Kong to the Australian city to deal with the aftermath of the murder.
Colleagues of the pastry chef expressed shock and deep sadness at the news of her death.
“She’s been with us since May 2012. She worked in our kitchen as a valued member of our pastry team. She will be terribly missed here,” employer Steven Kearney told Australian media.
“She was a wonderful person and a beautiful friend and colleague. We offer our heartfelt condolences to her family and friends and all our thoughts are with them.”
Prior to her work in the industry, Lau was a patisserie student at Melbourne’s William Angliss Institute for Hospitality between 2010 and 2012.
A statement by the institute’s chief executive, Nicholas Hunt, said the community was “deeply saddened by the tragic death.”
Lau’s alleged attacker had reportedly come to Melbourne from the northern city of Darwin, where he lived in a shed and crafted didgeridoos – an aboriginal wind instrument.
It is still unknown when Lau arrived in Australia from Hong Kong.