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Australia: Queensland man pleads guilty to starting fire at girlfriend Alexis Parkes' Brisbane home, denies intending to kill her

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Alexis Parkes died in hospital days after being rescued from a Brisbane house fire in 2020. (Supplied) © Provided by ABC News (Brisbane) Alexis Parkes died in hospital days after being rescued from a Brisbane house fire in 2020. (Supplied)

A man accused of murdering his partner has admitted to starting a fatal blaze at her Brisbane home but has denied he intended to kill her.

WARNING: This story contains content that readers may find distressing.

Alexis Parkes died of multi-organ failure four days after she was rescued from her burning house in Chermside in February 2020.

On Tuesday, James Morton Mason pleaded not guilty to the 50-year-old's murder at the start of a Supreme Court trial in Brisbane.

However, he did plead guilty to one count of arson, with the jury hearing he had deliberately set fire to her car which was underneath the high-set house while she was inside upstairs.

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Crown prosecutor Matthew Green told the jury there were several facts in the case that were not disputed, including that on the night of the fire the pair became involved in "some sort of an argument".

"The circumstances of that are unclear, although Mr Mason later spoke to police and at first emphasised that Ms Parkes was psycho and aggressive," he said

"He eventually said there was an argument about 'weed'."

The jury heard during the night Ms Parkes had sent a series of text messages to Mr Mason's daughter asking her to call her father because he had been "bashing me up" and if he did not leave, she would call police.

Mr Green told the jury one message read "he has just put me in a headlock and demanded pot", while another read: "I truly love your father, he needs to sort his stuff out before he can be with me."

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Mason admits setting car on fire

The jury heard it was also not disputed that Mr Mason told police before he set the car alight, he moved his own property from the house to a vacant home nearby, and then "left immediately" after the fire took hold.

However, in further police interviews he made "different claims" about what he did after starting the blaze, but always maintained he did not intend to hurt Ms Parkes, the jury heard.

Mr Mason's defence lawyer Simon Lewis told the jury it was important they "don't let the emotions get the better of you".

"It's a case where unfortunately the deceased died in a way that is perhaps a great fear for a lot of people," he said.

"Keep an open mind until you've heard all the evidence."

Mr Lewis said they needed to "be careful not to jump to conclusions".

"You're going to have to consider what his intention was at the time he lit the fire."

A video taken by one neighbour was played to the court, which showed the home completely engulfed in flames as firefighters arrived.

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Neighbours hear Ms Parkes 'locked in' burning home

Other residents gave evidence about what they witnessed on the night, including their attempts to save Ms Parkes.

Michael Kramarenko became emotional as he detailed how she begged him to help her but she was trapped inside a locked front door.

"She said that she couldn't get out, that her boyfriend had locked her in there and had taken the keys," he said.

Mr Kramarenko told the court earlier in the night he heard "a little bit of shouting" coming from the home, before hearing a man "cussing" while walking down the street.

"[Ms Parkes] was basically telling the person to leave," he said.

Another neighbour, Stephen McGarry, told the court he was asleep and had been woken by "shouting and screaming" before he looked outside his home.

"I could see that directly over the road there was a fire underneath the house," he said.

Mr McGarry told the court he ran to the home and was trying to alert anyone inside.

"I was just constantly shouting 'your house is on fire! Get out! Get out!'," he said.

"I just remember seeing a silhouette in the window of the house and just hearing 'I've been locked in'."

Katherine Jones, who lived in a nearby street, told the court she saw a woman inside the house open a back window before screaming "help, I can't get out".

"She said 'I'm locked in I can't get out, he's got the key'," she told the court.

The jury heard there was no evidence Mr Mason had a spare set of keys to Ms Parkes' home and when firefighters gained access to the house, they found her holding keys.

The trial, which is expected to run for a week, continues.

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