A Victorian woman who doused a man in petrol and set him alight after he touched her breasts has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Several people saw Gary Stewart, 50, touching the breasts of Kerry Anne McNiven the day before she set him alight at Wangaratta in November last year, the Victorian Supreme Court was told on Tuesday.

McNiven, 44, was intoxicated when she was touched and was unaware the incident had occurred until a friend told her about it later, her barrister Nick Papas SC said.

“Ms McNiven referred to that as being a cause or connected to what she did,” he told the court.

McNiven attacked Mr Stewart on the banks of the Ovens River, dousing him in petrol before setting him alight.

Witnesses described seeing Mr Stewart having fluid poured over him and then becoming a human fireball.

One man dragged Mr Stewart into the river.

Mr Stewart, who suffered burns to more than 70 per cent of his body, died in a Melbourne hospital several weeks after the attack.

McNiven admitted the attack, telling police: “This whole thing is because he touched my boobies last night while I was asleep.”

McNiven, of Wangaratta, was expected to go on trial on Tuesday, but Mr Papas indicated she would plead guilty to manslaughter.

Members of Mr Stewart’s family, who travelled to the Wangaratta court from Queensland, will read out victim impact statements at a pre-sentence hearing for McNiven on Wednesday.

Mr Papas told Justice Lex Lasry he would seek psychological reports about his client, including reports to determine whether she suffered from a post traumatic stress disorder.

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