Donna Steele accused pleads guilty to murder
MATTHEW Ross White has pleaded guilty to the murder of Cooktown mum Donna Steele.
The Mooroobool father, 27, entered his plea after lunch on the second day of his Cairns Supreme Court trial.
The plea followed a morning during which the jury was played audio and video interviews between Mr White and Detective Sergeant John Scott McGrath.
During the interviews the court heard Mr White tell detectives he had strangled Ms Steele until he was satisfied she had stopped breathing, then tied her hands and submerged her in the Endeavour River in case she woke up.
The court heard he had planned to extort $20,000 from Ms Steele and her associates in the Cooktown 'drug scene'.
The jury had expected a trial lasting up to four days or even into next week, with evidence to come from Cooktown residence and forensic pathologist Dr Paul Botteril.
Because Ms Steele's body was found after spending four days in the water, her cause of death could not be narrowed down beyond strangulation, suffocation or drowning.
He has been remanded into custody awaiting sentence.