A red rose rally for manslaughter victim China Crawford. Picture: Stewart McLean
A red rose rally for manslaughter victim China Crawford. Picture: Stewart McLean

Secret lover killed by partner

A DATING app killer choked his secret lover to death with his forearm "in five seconds" and set her body on fire.

Richard Clay Dunlop, of Cairns has pleaded guilty in Cairns Supreme Court to the manslaughter of China Crawford on April 3, 2017.

Dunlop, 28, met victim Ms Crawford, 31, on the popular dating website "Plenty of Fish" behind the back of his live-in girlfriend.

Supreme Court Judge Jim Henry heard how the pair met online and exchanged texts over four months about erotic massage, blindfolds and using rope ties.

On the night she was killed, Ms Crawford told a friend she was going on a mystery date and he was "going to surprise her, blindfold her and place items in her hands and on her feet".

"Plainly there was interest in a sexual encounter of some kind, something erotic,'' Justice Henry said.

The court heard how Dunlop, an autistic shopping trolley collector at Coles, turned up at her Bentley Park unit and gave her a massage.

Bentley Park woman China Crawford, 32, whose body was found in her Herald St residence.
Bentley Park woman China Crawford, 32, whose body was found in her Herald St residence.


"This was not just a normal massage, it was more sensual, slightly edgy in a sexual sense,'' Justice Henry said.

The pair bought some KFC and sat down to watch a movie when Ms Crawford appeared naked and asked him for another massage.

The court heard Dunlop said: "What the f*ck? I thought we got over this thing?'

Ms Crawford, a road traffic controller, started screaming he'd been leading her on stating: "You're not leaving until you give me the massage I deserve."

During a heated exchange, she said: "What kind of man are you?"

Dunlop pushed her into the wall with his forearm against her throat "for five seconds" and held her there until she hit the deck.

Justice Henry heard Dunlop came back 15 minutes later to find her lying on the floor, with her tongue hanging out, dead.

He "panicked", the court was told, lay her naked body on a foam mattress on the floor, half covered it with a cupboard door, put a gas canister in the room and using a glass jar candle lit the mattress.

Two days later Ms Crawford's body was found bloated and partially burnt - cooked like in an oven - with her clothes, mobile telephone and handbag missing.

There were no ligature marks - to show she'd been tied up - on her wrists or ankles.

"It suggests the plan for a sexual episode, I'm not suggesting something sinister, but something has gone wrong,'' Justice Henry said.

Justice Henry is listed to hand down a sentence for charges of manslaughter, interfering with a corpse and stealing in Cairns Supreme Court on Monday at 1.45pm.



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