Annette Brennan, 67, was found dead at a rubbish tip in Epping last week, about 8km from her home in Coolaroo

A man accused of murdering a beloved English teacher and dumping her body in a wheelie bin has fronted court – but mystery still surrounds how they knew each other.

Stephen Fleming, 45, of Coolaroo appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday accused of the murder of Annette Brennan, 67. 

Miss Brennan was found dead at a rubbish tip in Epping last week, about 8km from her home in Coolaroo, in Melbourne’s north-west.

Dressed in green and sporting a bald-headed half-mullet, the alleged killer sat quietly in the prison dock behind protective glass for the short filing hearing. 

The court heard it would take Victorian detectives 20 weeks to prepare their brief of evidence against Fleming. 

A prosecutor told Magistrate Louise Wildberger police needed to analyse and recreate multiple crime scenes and compile forensic evidence from computers and other technology linked to the alleged crime. 

Fleming’s lawyer told the court her client had no custody management issues that needed attending to while he awaited his next court date in January next year. 

It is understood no-one from either Miss Brennan’s family or that of the accused attended court for the hearing. 

Annette Brennan, 67, was found dead at a rubbish tip in Epping last week, about 8km from her home in Coolaroo

Annette Brennan, 67, was found dead at a rubbish tip in Epping last week, about 8km from her home in Coolaroo.

Steven Fleming appeared in court on Wednesday

Steven Fleming appeared in court on Wednesday

Detectives had pounced on Fleming in Glenroy, in Melbourne‘s north-west, about 11.15am on Tuesday. 

They believe Miss Brennan’s remains were put inside a bin that was picked up from her Hilgay Street home by a garbage truck on Tuesday last week. 

Staff at a tip in nearby Epping located her body while moving green waste on Wednesday last week and contacted police. 

A police spokesperson said Ms Brennan had known her alleged killer.  

While police refused to reveal how the pair knew each other, they have told reporters she is not Fleming’s mother.  

One of Ms Brennan’s former students, Simona Croce, told 9News that the teacher was a ‘beautiful, loving and a kind woman’.

‘She was amazing, I’m really shocked,’ she added, calling her a ‘second mum’.

‘No one deserves to be treated this way, no one,’ she said. 

A significant police canvass of the Coolaroo area for CCTV footage remains ongoing. 

Police visited the Coolaroo home on Monday where an officer was seen locking down the house 

Detectives are also keen to speak to anyone who may have witnessed any suspicious activity in the area around that time.

The arrest comes on the back of rapid detective work which saw police track the route of the woman’s body from the tip back to her Coolaroo property. 

On Saturday, police were seen collecting clippings from plants and shrubs at nearby properties, which are believed to have matched those found at the tip. 

Police also probed another brick home about 100m down the street, using a locksmith to enter the property about 1pm.

It is understood detectives were keen to check footage from the home’s CCTV cameras, which could provide vital evidence in the ongoing investigation. 

CCTV in the largely government housing area is not widespread, with police again calling on the public to come forward with any possible footage. 

Police are particularly keen to speak to anyone who may have CCTV or dashcam footage captured between Sunday June 23 and Tuesday July 2.

Police at the Coolaroo home on Saturday

Police at the Coolaroo home on Saturday 

Police were able to match leaf cuttings found at the tip to those near the woman's property

Police were able to match leaf cuttings found at the tip to those near the woman’s property 

On Monday, a lone detective was spotted entering the house through the front door. 

He was seen closing an open window at the front of the home before leaving about 10 minutes later.   

Apart from teams of media representatives, no-one was seen visiting the property on Monday. 

Nor did anyone attend to leave floral tributes, which have become routine at other similar tragedies.   

One neighbour told Daily Mail Australia the neighbourhood remained in shock following the suspected murder. 

‘We’ve never seen anything like this out here. It’s just awful,’ the man said. 

Other neighbours claimed the woman living at the home was quiet, but friendly.

While she was not known to drive a car herself, neighbours had observed a car parked in the driveway, which was used by a man.

One neighbour said he saw a man taking out bins from the property in the days leading up to the discovery.

Chaithanya 'Swetha' Madhagani's body was found in a wheelie bin in March

Chaithanya ‘Swetha’ Madhagani’s body was found in a wheelie bin in March

The scene outside the Coolaroo home on Monday was a far cry from the community response to the death of Chaithanya ‘Swetha’ Madhagani. 

Ms Madhagani’s body had also been stuffed into a wheelie bin found on Mount Pollock Road in Buckley, west of Geelong, on March 8.

Her death sparked an outpouring of emotion from the community, with friends gathering to honour her in Point Cook, where she lived. 

Ms Brennan is alleged to be the 48th woman murdered in Australia this year.  

Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or log onto www.crimestoppersvic.com.au

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