ARMED with a machete, Jeremy Garvey was the first to climb through an open and unlocked window into small-time drug dealer Philip Steele's Whitebridge home in the early hours of December 17, 2018.
Garvey, now 25, had been at the home exactly 12 hours earlier when he had convinced Mr Steele, 60, that he was a police officer and then robbed him of his wallet and $1000 in cash.
But this time Garvey was planning something more sinister; an armed home invasion in the dead of night targeting Mr Steele's meagre stash of drugs and cash.
But when one of Mr Steele's brothers heard a scraping noise and looked up to see Garvey climbing through the window with a large knife, he pulled a sliding door off its rails and threw it at Garvey, sprayed a can of aerosol at him and then ran through the house yelling that there were armed men coming into the house.
The commotion woke Philip Steele, who ran into the room, grabbed Garvey by the neck and tried to push him back out the window.
What happened next was a chaotic scene; Garvey stabbing and slashing with the machete, one of the other intruders, 21-year-old Daniel Mahoney, swinging a baseball bat at Mr Steele to try to get him to relinquish his grip on Garvey and a third man, who detectives allege was 25-year-old Luke Jones, punching Mr Steele.
It was a wild melee and at some point Mr Steele fell to the floor, bleeding heavily.
As the three men fled, triggering a wild police pursuit through the streets of Whitebridge and Charlestown, one of Mr Steele's brothers found him lying on his side with a large wound to his arm.
"All this for two thousand dollars," Philip Steele said. "Save my arm at least."
He died on the way to John Hunter Hospital.
While Mahoney and Mr Jones were quickly arrested, Garvey remained on the run for nearly two weeks, despite police circulating his photograph online and appealing for information to find him.
He was arrested on December 30, 2018, and charged with murder.
He pleaded not guilty in Newcastle Local Court and was expected to face a trial alongside Mr Jones in February, 2021.
But on Friday in Sydney Supreme Court, Garvey was re-arraigned and pleaded guilty to murdering Mr Steele. He will likely be sentenced in 2021.
Mr Mahoney pleaded guilty to murder in Newcastle Local Court in February. He will face a sentence hearing in September.
Mr Jones maintained his plea of not guilty in Sydney Supreme Court on Friday and will face a trial in Newcastle Supreme Court in February, 2021.