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Shock in Australia after mother-of-three burnt to death, ex-partner charged with murder

A lawyer who spoke with the man accused of killing Gold Coast mother-of-three Kelly Wilkinson and setting her body alight says no one could have predicted the tragedy.

Brian Earl Johnston, 34, of New Beith, is charged with murder, breaching a domestic violence order and his bail conditions after the burned body of Ms Wilkinson was found in a Gold Coast back yard.

Johnston was arrested on Tuesday just two blocks from the Arundel property, where his former partner's body was found, and he is suffering burns to his hands and possibly his airway.

He was transferred to the burns unit at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane and remained under police guard as his charges were mentioned yesterday in Southport Magistrates Court.

After the brief mention, lawyer Chris Hannay said outside court that Johnston was "in a pretty bad way".

Mr Hannay had met with Johnstone on Sunday, less than 48 hours before he allegedly attacked and murdered Ms Wilkinson.

"On Sunday, I got some instructions from him in relation to some other fairly serious matters that he has been charged with, and I haven't spoken to him since," Mr Hannay said.

Johnstone did not appear distressed or agitated for the weekend conference, Mr Hannay said.

"Not really, he was pretty coherent.

"We took suitable instructions. He was there with a colleague of his," Mr Hannay said.

"We went through a whole lot of things about the domestic violence issues with the DV and the kids and the family.

"Obviously, no one expected this to happen, but everyone thought that they were just chugging along as a normal process."

Johnston cannot apply for bail in the magistrates court and was formally remanded in custody until June 4.

Mr Hannay said Johnstone was expected to apply for Supreme Court bail in the coming months.

Neighbours reported raised voices coming from the home about 6.40am.

"It was obviously a very confronting scene, a female person deceased in the rear yard of a residence, apparently suffering from burn-type injuries," Detective Inspector Chris Ahearn said on Tuesday.

Three children, all under the age of nine and present at the time of the incident, may have witnessed Ms Wilkinson's death.

All three are safe and will be interviewed as part of the investigation.

Police have been speaking with residents and stopped rubbish collections because potential evidence may have been dumped in a bin.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family and pay for Ms Wilkinson's funeral.

"Please help us! We appreciate any help no matter how big or small," organiser of the fundraiser Natalie Wilkinson said.