Emergency call taker gives evidence at Freshford murder trial

Ruaidhrí Giblin

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Ruaidhrí Giblin

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Emergency call taker gives evidence at Freshford murder trial

Accused: Renars Veigulis

A man on trial for murdering his partner phoned emergency services to say she fell down the stairs, a jury at the Central Criminal Court has heard. 

Prosecuting lawyers told the jury at the trial’s opening yesterday(Tuesday) that a post mortem examination will show her injuries were inconsistent with a fall. 

Renars Veigulis (32) of Old Bridge Street in Freshford, Co Kilkenny has pleaded not guilty to murdering Rita Apine (29) at their home on or about May 14, 2017.

Opening the trial on Tuesday, counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Vincent Heneghan SC, said the accused and the deceased were from both Latvia. Mr Veigulus came to Ireland about five years ago, followed six months later by Ms Apine, and in 2016 they moved to Freshford, from Kilkenny City.

The jury heard evidence today (Wednesday) from Laura Bunbury, an emergency-call taker with the National Ambulance Service, based in Tallaght. 

Giving evidence to Mr Heneghan, for the prosecution, Ms Bunbury said she received a call at 12.18 on the day in question from the defendant who advised that his partner had fallen down the stairs. The jury then heard a recording of the phone call. 

The jury heard Mr Veigulis say: “Hello can I talk with Kilkenny ambulance. Please, my wife has fallen down the stairs.”

Ms Bunbury would accept, under cross examination from Michael Bowman, for the defence, that Mr Veigulis was clearly distressed and anxious. The jury could hear he was breathing heavily.

“Please, please very fast. All blood on the floor, please,’ the defendant was heard telling the emergency call-taker. 

When Ms Bunbury asked had his partner fallen from the top of the stairs, he said he didn't know. 

When asked where his partner was bleeding from, he said: "from the head, please".

Ms Bunbury told him to get a clean and dry cloth or towel, place it on the wound and apply pressure.

When asked for his partner’s age, he said “27 or 28” and was heard to be crying at this point. 

Through audible sobs, he said his wife was looking at him. He confirmed she was breathing at this point. 

He said he didn't know what caused her to fall down.

The jury heard the accused speak some words in their native language to his wife but she did not respond. 

"The whole floor with blood,” Mr Veigulis was heard saying. 

Ms Bunbury told him to take a deep breath and to calm down. "We can't help her if you're panicked," she told him, asking him again to take a deep breath.

Ms Bunbury asked Mr Veigulis to squeeze his partner’s hand to see if she would squeeze back. She didn't.

When asked at this point whether she was awake, he said no. "She closed the eyes”.

Ms Bunburry asked the caller to turn his partner onto the flat of her back, kneel down beside her and pump her chest. The jury heard ms Bunburry provide instructions on how to administer CPR and she told him to pump slowly "one, two, three, four" at her place.

That continued until the ambulance arrived.

Under cross examination from Mr Bowman, for the defence, she agreed Mr Veigulis clearly sounded distressed and anxious and was trying to relay to her what he believed had taken place.

Dr Leonard de Villiers gave evidence to Mr Heneghan that he was on call with ‘Caredoc' in Kilkenny on the date in question when he got a call to go to an apartment on Bridge Street.

Dr Villiers said the initial call out was to certify that "somebody had passed on" but on arrival, he was told she had been revived.

He said he observed a “big gash” to the right hand side of her head. Both of her eyes were swollen shut and there was bruising to a cheek of her face and one of her hands.

Dr Villiers said Mr Veigulis had come next to him and was "shaking a lot". The doctor said he put his arm on Mr Veigulis’ shoulder and told him that the medics would do their best.

Paramedic Dave Mythen gave evidence to Mr Heneghan that he arrived at the scene and noticed a large wound to the top of Ms Apine’s head that was bleeding profusely. 

Mr Mythen said the inside of the house was heavily blood stained and the blood had been dispersed as a result of everybody moving around inside the house. 

He said Ms Apine was initially found at the bottom of the stairs in a confined area that was too tight to administer treatment. Her body was lying in the hallway with her legs behind a door. In order to move her into space, her legs were bent at the knees which caused her legs to drag in blood, Mr Mythen said. 

Paramedic Richard Costello gave evidence to Mr Heneghan that he noticed blood on the wall of the staircase.

Paramedic Maurice Wall gave evidence to Mr Heneghan that Mr Veigulis was having a cigarette while the paramedics were working on his partner. As far as he could recall, Mr Veigulis threw the cigarette butt on the floor of the hallway.

He said there was a child-safety gate at the end of the staircase, which was open. 

The trial continues tomorrow (Thursday) before a jury of seven men and five women, with Ms Justice Tara Burns presiding.

The jury has heard that paramedics resuscitated Ms Apine at the scene and took her to hospital but she died later that day. A garda at the scene noticed blood spatter that he did not think was consistent with a simple fall down the stairs and an investigation began. A forensic team found further blood spatter which they say was inconsistent with a fall and evidence that blood had been wiped from a wall prior to the arrival of paramedics and gardaí, the jury heard. 

Mr Heneghan said forensic scientists examined Mr Veigulis's clothing and found, on his top, evidence of blood spatter which was not consistent with the version of events he put forward. 

He told the jury they would hear a post mortem examination showed the deceased had suffered severe blunt force trauma that was not consistent with a fall down the stairs, Mr Heneghan said.

During garda interviews the accused maintained that Ms Apine died as a result of the fall.