When Barbara was found brutally murdered in the housing commission complex stairwell, the cops had only one suspect: her neighbour, who she deeply loathed. But now a jury has found him not guilty
The terrifying final moments of a woman’s life were caught on camera before she was brutally beaten to death and left ‘upside down’ in a stairwell.
But a jury in Melbourne on Tuesday found Daniel Waters, 43, not guilty of murdering his neighbor Barbara Chabaud, 63, at a city housing commission complex in May 2021.
A terrifying video of Waters abusing Ms Chabaud in the hours before she died can now be revealed.
Waters left the Supreme Court of Victoria after being acquitted not only of murder, but also of manslaughter.
He had been Victoria Police’s sole suspect in a case that Waters’ lawyer said had been bungled from the start.
Daniel Waters was arrested after Barbara Chabaud’s body was found in an open-air stairwell at a housing commission complex in Melbourne in May 2021.
Waters walked away after the jury found there was a reasonable prospect that another neighbor could have killed Ms. Chabaud.
In a series of videos uploaded to YouTube, Waters is heard accusing his now-deceased neighbor of throwing “feces” on his front door and stealing his buddy’s bicycle wheel.
Ms Chabaud was heard accusing him of stalking her during the eight years she lived in the government flat.
“Daniel is absolutely obsessed with me,” she said in a video posted on the day she was set to die.
“You’re obsessed with me because you have no friends, no life, you’re all stuck inside and have your mental delusions.”
Ms. Chabaud was heard berating Waters for being a Social Security “sponsor” and having an apartment that “looks like a tip.”
“You manage a two-bedroom flat – you’re a selfish little pr**k,” she shouted at him.
Police alleged in court that Waters beat Ms Chabaud to death shortly after the disturbing altercation, which he posted on YouTube.
But Waters’ attorney Moya O’Brien argued during the trial that detectives bungled the investigation.
“It was a shoddy investigation, a real dog’s breakfast,” she said.
‘You could easily conclude that this was a clumsy, sloppy and half-baked investigation.
‘If the Rolls-Royce is the desired standard, you would have no difficulty in accepting that this was a study like a 20-year-old Hyundai finding out that Getz was missing the rear tyres.’
Ms O’Brien also expressed contempt for the prosecution case.
“We argue that the Crown case suffers from what I like to call the Cinderella condition… Ultimately, the shoes just don’t fit, jurors,” she argued.
Barbara Chabaud told police days before her murder that she had put far too much work into her unit to want to switch. She took pride in her home, even keeping the mats tidy at the front, the court heard.
Waters had figured the jury might have thought another neighbor had had a motive to kill Ms. Chabaud.
That neighbor had ended up in jail years earlier for assaulting her.
He claimed to police that he was playing video games in his unit at the time of Ms Chabaud’s murder.
“It’s an alibi, we say, that has never been properly investigated by the police,” Ms O’Brien said.
Waters’ attorney portrayed 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 condition… In the end, the shoes just don’t fit, jurors
‘Mrs. Chabaud flew off the handle that day. You heard for yourself the taunts she hurled at Daniel Waters, ‘change your nappy, s*** licker’, that sort of thing,” Ms O’Brien said.
She alleged that a group of others within the building complex may have had reason to harm Ms. Chabaud.
“Barbara Chabaud had other enemies in the building, we say. She was someone who easily got into arguments with people. She would speak out of school and shoot from the hip. It’s not the kind of environment, members of the jury, that you would think you would want to make enemies with.
“None of her other enemies have been properly investigated or ruled out. There wasn’t even a knock on the door.’
Waters denied any wrongdoing when contacted by reporters following his arrest in May 2021
Ms O’Brien argued the jury should have had reasonable doubt that someone else was the killer.
‘There was a cursory search of the other residents of the building, but no real tangible follow-up.
“There are no restrictions on the number of potential killers there can be, from residents or employees of Surrey Road or people in the immediate area,” she said.
“Did this environment increase anyone else’s reasonable opportunity? Someone else in that apartment complex who could have killed Barbara Chabaud. We say yes.’
The pair had been at war for the past eight years in a high-rise housing development in leafy South Yarra, just outside Melbourne’s CBD.
Prosecutors alleged at trial that Mrs. Chabaud made the fatal mistake of throwing a putrid-smelling liquid on Waters’ door after growing tired of his vicious beatings.
Closing the case last week, Attorney General Ray Gibson QC told the jury that Mrs Chabaud, the proud housewife, had been at her wits’ end.
“After eight years of constant harassment, she decided to retaliate and throw a concoction she had cooked on the suspect’s screen door,” he said.
“She didn’t realize the powder keg she had set on fire with that little act of revenge.”
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 the police ‘did nothing about’.
After officers left a battered Ms. Chabaud that day, things went from bad to scandalous.
The South Yarra Housing Commission complex where Waters committed his crime
A video taken two days later by Waters and shown in court showed him flying into a terrifying rage at his victim, who hid behind the safety of her security door.
“Anyone who saw the footage of what the suspect posted on YouTube about this confrontation on the 15th would have had the same thoughts: ‘Barbara don’t participate,’ ‘Just close your door. Don’t poke the bear’. Mr. Gibson told the jury.
The court heard that police believed Waters had somehow caught Ms Chabaud outside her unit later that evening.
‘This attack was brutal and very personal indeed. He caused her serious and fatal injuries. The murder would have lasted only a few minutes,” Gibson claimed in court.
‘After inflicting injuries on her, he dumped her body in the concrete stairwell.
“He defiled her body by removing articles of clothing and exposing her breasts and genitals. He pulled down her pants and pulled up her top.”
‘Why he did that is anyone’s guess. Was it to make it look like a crime with a sexual motive other than pure violence, or did it just reflect, did it just reflect his general antipathy, hatred if you will, towards her by leaving her there upside down in the stairwell ? bleeding, without an ounce of dignity.’
The court heard allegations that Waters punched, kicked and stomped on Ms Chabaud, leaving his DNA ‘everywhere’.
Waters pleaded not guilty to the crime.
He denied murdering Ms Chabaud and claimed he was safely confined in his own unit at the time of the murder.
“I’m just in shock,” he told investigators.
Daniel Waters was found not guilty of the murder of Barbara Chabaud
The housing commission complex in South Yarra, where Waters is said to have committed his bloody crime
Barefoot and handcuffed, Waters was filmed outside the Surrey Road complex at the time as he was escorted out by two homicide detectives.
He also denied killing his neighbor when questioned by waiting reporters.
Mr Gibson told the jury the YouTube videos clearly showed Waters’ contempt for Ms Chabaud.
“We are saying to you that it shows his hatred and anger towards Barbara and that he is obsessed with the way she has treated him over the years and over the last few days. She is the center of his anger,” he said.
The court heard Waters’ hatred traced back to petty arguments over Ms Chabaud’s flowers growing on his side of a shared balcony.
Witnesses told the jury that Ms Chabaud was terrified of Waters, who constantly shouted abuse at her and punched the walls.
The court heard that during her years of torment, Ms Chabaud had made 13 complaints to Victoria’s Department of Families, Fairness and Housing about her neighbour.
‘Daniel Waters murdered his neighbor with whom he had been arguing for years. It escalated. He snapped,” Mr Gibson told the jury in the submissions.
‘He violently attacked her and she was eventually thrown down the stairs where she was found deceased.’
But the jury ultimately disagreed.