The terrifying final moments of a woman’s life were caught on camera before she was brutally beaten to death and left ‘hanging upside down’ in a stairwell.
But a Melbourne jury on Tuesday found Daniel Waters, 43, not guilty of murdering his neighbour Barbara Chabaud, 63, in a city housing commission complex in May 2021.
Terrifying video of Waters abusing Ms Chabaud in the hours before she died can now be revealed.
Waters walked free from the Supreme Court of Victoria after not only being cleared of murder, but the alternative charge of manslaughter.
He had been Victoria Police’s only suspect in a case Waters’ barrister claimed had been bungled from the outset.
Daniel Waters was arrested after Barbara Chabaud’s body was found in an open air stairwell in a Melbourne housing commission complex in May 2021
Waters walked after the jury found there was a reasonable prospect another neighbour could have killed Ms Chabaud.
In a series of videos uploaded to YouTube, Waters is heard accusing his now deceased neighbour of ‘throwing excrement’ on his front door and stealing his mate’s bicycle wheel.
Ms Chabaud could be heard accusing him in response of stalking her for the full eight years she had lived in the government housing flat.
‘Daniel is absolutely obsessed with me,’ she said on a video posted on the very day she would die.
‘You’re obsessed with me because you have no friends, no life, you’re all inside having your mental delusions.’
Ms Chabaud could be heard berating Waters for being a welfare ‘sponger’ and having an apartment that ‘looks like a tip’.
‘You’re hogging a two bedroom flat – you’re a selfish little ‘pr**k,’ she called out to him.
Police claimed in court that Waters bashed Ms Chabaud to death shortly after the disturbing exchange, which he posted to YouTube.
But Waters’ barrister Moya O’Brien argued at trial that detectives had bungled the investigation.
‘It was a sloppy investigation, a veritable dog’s breakfast,’ she said.
‘You would have no difficulty in reaching the view that this was a bumbling, sloppy, half-baked investigation.
‘If the Rolls-Royce is the desired standard, you would have no difficulty in accepting that this was an investigation like a 20 year old Hyundai clapped out Getz missing the back tyres.’
Ms O’Brien also poured scorn on the prosecution case.
‘We argue that the Crown case suffers from what I like to call the Cinderella affliction … At the end of the day, members of the jury, the shoes just does not fit,’ she argued.
Barbara Chabaud told police days before her murder she’d put far too much work into her unit to want to shift. She was house proud, she even kept the mats tidy out the front, the court heard.
Waters had banked on the jury might believing another neighbour may have had motive to kill Ms Chabaud.
That neighbour had been jailed years earlier for assaulting her.
He claimed to police he had been in his unit playing video games at the time of Ms Chabaud’s murder.
‘It’s an alibi, we say, that’s never been properly investigated by police,’ Ms O’Brien said.
Waters’ barrister painted Ms Chabaud as a confrontational woman, who was estranged from her own family.
The Crown case suffers from what I like to call the Cinderella affliction … At the end of the day, members of the jury, the shoes just does not fit
‘Ms Chabaud was flying off the handle that day. You’ve heard the taunts yourself that she was dishing out to Daniel Waters, “change your nappy, s*** licker”, those sort of things,’ Ms O’Brien said.
She claimed a swag of others within the building complex may have had cause to harm Ms Chabaud.
‘Barbara Chabaud had other enemies in the building we say. She was someone who fell out easily with people. She’d speak out of school and she’d shoot from the hip. It’s not the sort of environment, members of the jury, that you think you might want to go about making enemies.
‘None of her other enemies have been properly investigated nor excluded. Not even a door knock.’
Waters denied any wrongdoing when approached by reporters upon his arrest in May 2021
Ms O’Brien argued the jury ought have had a reasonable doubt someone else was the killer.
‘There was a cursory investigation into the other residents of the building, but no real tangible follow-up.
‘There’s no restriction on the potential killers there might be from residents or associates at Surrey Road or people in the immediate vicinity,’ she said.
‘Does this environment raise the reasonable possibility of someone else? Someone else in that apartment complex who could have killed Barbara Chabaud. We say, yes.’
The pair had been at war over the previous eight years at a high rise housing commission building in leafy South Yarra – just outside of Melbourne’s CBD.
Prosecutors alleged at trial that Ms Chabaud made the fatal mistake of throwing a putrid smelling liquid on Waters’ door after becoming fed-up with his vile abuse.
In closing the case last week, Crown prosecutor Ray Gibson, KC told the jury the house proud Ms Chabaud had been at her wits’ end.
‘After eight years of ongoing harassment, she decided to strike back and throw a concoction she cooked up on the accused’s screen door,’ he said.
‘She didn’t realise what a powder keg she had ignited by that small act of retaliation.’
The court heard Waters, who was known within the complex as ‘Delusional Dan’, responded by punching her in the face – an act the jury was told police ‘did nothing about’.
After officers left a battered Ms Chabaud that day, things went from bad to outrageous.
The South Yarra housing commission complex where Waters committed his crime
Video taken by Waters two days later, and shown in court, showed him flying into a terrifying rage at his victim, who hid behind the safety of her security door.
‘All who have seen the footage of what the accused had posted on YouTube about this confrontation on the 15th would have had the same thoughts, “Barbara don’t engage”, “Just shut your door. Don’t poke the bear”,’ Mr Gibson told the jury.
The court heard police believed Waters somehow caught Ms Chabaud outside her unit later that evening.
‘This attack was savage and indeed very personal. He inflicted severe and fatal injuries upon her. The murder would have only taken minutes,’ Mr Gibson alleged in court.
‘Following his infliction of injuries upon her he dumped her body in the concrete stairwell.
‘He defiled her body removing articles of clothing, exposing her breasts and genitals. He pulled her pants down and pulled up her top.’
‘Why he did that is anybody’s guess. Was it to make it look like a crime with a sexual motive other than one involving sheer violence or did it just reflect, did it just reflect his general antipathy, hatred if you will, towards her in leaving her there in the stairwell upside down, bleeding, without a shred of dignity.’
The court heard allegations Waters punched, kicked and stomped Ms Chabaud, leaving his DNA ‘all over the place’.
Waters pleaded not guilty to the crime.
He denied killing Ms Chabaud, claiming he had been safely locked away in his own unit at the time of her murder.
‘I’m just in shock,’ he told detectives.
Daniel Waters was found not guilty of murdering Barbara Chabaud
The South Yarra housing commission complex where Waters was alleged to have carried out his bloody crime
Barefoot and in handcuffs, Waters was filmed at the time outside the Surrey Road complex being escorted out by two Homicide Squad detectives.
He also denied murdering his neighbour when questioned by waiting reporters.
Mr Gibson told the jury the YouTube videos clearly displayed Waters’ contempt for Ms Chabaud.
‘We say to you it shows his hatred and anger towards Barbara and he’s obsessed with how she has treated him over the years and in recent days. She is the centre of his rage,’ he said.
The court heard Waters’ hatred was linked back to petty arguments over Ms Chabaud’s flowers growing onto his side of a shared balcony.
Witnesses told the jury Ms Chabaud was terrified of Waters, who constantly shouted abuse at her and bashed on the walls.
The court heard Ms Chabaud had made 13 complaints to Victoria’s Department of Families, Fairness and Housing about her neighbour throughout her years of torment.
‘Daniel Waters killed his neighbour that he’d been fighting with for years. It escalated. He snapped,’ Mr Gibson told the jury in submissions.
‘He violently attacked her and she ended up thrown down the stairs where she was found deceased.’
But the jury ultimately disagreed.