Tara Brown murder-accused pleads guilty at trial's start

A Gold Coast man accused of murdering his New Zealand partner has been sentenced to life in prison, after pleading guilty on the first day of his trial. 

Lionel John Patea was charged with murdering 24-year-old Tara Brown after running her car off a suburban street in Molendinar in September 2015.

Ms Brown suffered critical head injuries during the alleged attack and died in hospital the following day.

His trial was set to get underway in the Brisbane Supreme Court before Justice Debra Mullins.

Dozens of Ms Brown's family and friends who packed the court on Monday morning witnessed Patea change his plea, the Brisbane Times reports.

NZN / Newshub.