United Kingdom

Gold Coast murder charge: Mother allegedly set alight by ex-husband

The woman who was found dead with burns to her body in the backyard of a Gold Coast home has been identified as mother-of-three Kelly Wilkinson (pictured)

The family of a man accused of setting alight and killing his estranged lover set up a mysterious fundraiser for him just days before the alleged murder. 

Kelly Wilkinson's charred body was discovered early on Tuesday morning in the backyard of her home in Arundel on the Gold Coast.

Police were called to the Spikes Court property at 6:40am after neighbours reported hearing screams and the sound of an explosion.

Her estranged partner Brian Johnston, 35, was found two blocks away on a front lawn in a 'semiconscious' state.

He was charged with murder on Tuesday night and will have the charges presented to Southport Magistrates Court on Wednesday in his absence as he remains under police guard in hospital.

Police will allege Johnston set the 27-year-old mother on fire.  Her three young kids, aged from two to nine, were inside the home at the time of the alleged murder and are all safe. 

On April 6, exactly two weeks before the alleged murder, Johnston's sister Kelly Kruft created the 'Help Brian and his Children' GoFundMe page.

'I'm Kelly Brian's sister, this is all I know to do to help my brother currently since he is in Australia! He needs our help! Please and Thank you! God Bless,' the vague description for the fundraiser read.  

Brian Johnston (right), 35, was found two blocks away on a front lawn in a 'semiconscious' state. He was charged with murdering his estranged wife Kelly Wilkinson (left) 

 Just two days before Johnston (right) allegedly set alight Ms Wilkinson (left), his sister set up a mysterious GoFundMe page 

A day after creating the crowdfunding page, which featured a photo of Johnston's three children, Ms Kruft took to Facebook to plead for donations.

'We are asking for your help and most definitely your prayers please! I can’t go into details currently but Brian needs his family and friends!!!!' she wrote.  

On Tuesday night, Ms Wilkinson's heartbroken sister Danielle Carroll shared her fury on social media, lashing out at Ms Kruft for posting about the fundraiser page. 

Ms Kruft took down her Facebook page late on Tuesday night after being bombarded with thousands of abusive messages directed to her brother. 

Johnston is currently under police guard at Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital in a serious condition with burns to his hands and airways.  

Ms Wilkinson's body was found in the backyard of her Gold Coast home early on Tuesday morning

Johnston's sister asked her Facebook friends for donations for the mysterious fundraiser (Johnston is pictured with estranged wife and one of their children)

A separate GoFundMe was created by Ms Wilkinson's sister Natalie on Tuesday afternoon asking for help to pay for the funeral of her 'beautiful angel'.

'Unfortunately Kelly has passed away... we are trying to raise money to pay for the funeral, the kids schooling and all other costs,' she wrote on the page. 

The GoFundMe has already seen donations totalling more than $50,000 in less than a day.

Ms Wilkinson's sister asked for friends and family to 'help the children' through the difficult period. 

In a tragic double blow, Kelly's mother, Karen, passed away in February.

Several people responded to Ms Wilkinson's sister's post, expressing their condolences and devastation at the news.

'Thinking of you and your family,' one friend replied.

'Oh babe... my heart reaches out to you all... If u need anything we are only a call away,' another said.

'I am so so so sorry Natalie,' another said.    

The house where police say Johnston was found unconscious and with burns to his hands and airways

Neighbours said they saw a bleeding man run from the scene on Tuesday morning.

'He turned up in the bushes in the house next door to me – his left arm was heavily bandaged,' one resident told 9News.

'(A passerby) saw the fella and asked you know, 'are you okay mate?' He made some remark like, 'I'm fine', but he had his head down.' 

Detective Inspector Chris Ahearn of the Gold Coast Police said the alleged killer was in a serious condition under police guard in hospital with burns to his hands and possible burns in his airways.

He had fled the scene of the incident and was found at a property in nearby Langer Place.   

'The forensic examination will take some time.

'There may be further evidence that has left that scene. Our intention is to lock that area down and determine (whether that is the case).  

They are investigating as to whether there had been domestic violence calls made to the house in the past.

Ms Wilkinson's body was found early on Tuesday morning on Spikes Court in Arundel

Det. Insp. Ahern said he did not know if the man was the father of the children and could not comment as to whether he was known to police for earlier domestic violence incidents

Local resident Fred Davies, who has lived on the street for 20 years, told the Courier Mail the situation was 'pretty traumatic'.

'When we lived in a street for as long as we have, and we all know one another, I have no idea who it is, what's happened, but to see this many police here obviously something's pretty traumatic has happened,' he said.

'They won't tell me nothing. They wouldn't say a word. They've just asked to have a look at the cameras.' 

Rubbish collection in the area was stopped on Tuesday afternoon as police searched bins for evidence possibly discarded by the alleged offender as he left the property.

'There may be further evidence that has left that scene,' Detective Inspector Brendan Smith said.

'Our intention is to lock that area down and determine (whether that is the case).'

Another forensic investigation officer was seen photographing what appeared to be a crumpled black garment at a nearby bus stop on Allied Drive, where it's believed the man stopped as he fled the scene.

Mid-afternoon an SES crew from Southport joined police in searching Spikes Court and the surrounding neighbourhood for any evidence left behind by the alleged offender.   

Police examined bins in Spikes Court in case the man had left anything as he fled the scene

A police forensic officer examines an object left at a bus stop near where the incident occurred

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