Freshford Murder Trial: Accused told gardaí he heard 'boom, boom, boom' before finding partner at the end of the stairs

Ruaidhrí Giblin

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Freshford Murder Trial: Accused told gardaí he heard 'boom, boom, boom' before finding partner at the end of the stairs

Accused: Renars Veigulis

A man on trial for murdering his partner told gardaí at the scene that he heard a “boom, boom, boom” before finding her at the bottom of their staircase.

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.

Mr Veigulis told ambulance staff that his partner fell down the stairs, while prosecuting lawyers have told a Central Criminal Court jury they will hear evidence that her injuries were inconsistent with a fall.

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, about 20 miles from Kilkenny City.

Garda James Keogh gave evidence to Mr Heneghan today that he preserved the scene in the apartment and spoke to Mr Veigulis. 

Garda Keogh said Mr Veigulis was unsteady on his feet so he sat him down at the kitchen table. 

The accused told the garda that he had been playing with his daughter in the living room when he heard a “boom, boom, boom” and Ms Apine crying. Mr Veigulis told the garda that he went into the hallway where he found Ms Apine at the end of the stairs. 

Kilkenny County Councillor, Andrew McGuinness, gave evidence to Mr Heneghan that Ms Apine had come to his clinic in June 2016 seeking assistance in finding accommodation for herself and her daughter. She was also seeking assistance in getting a lone-parent allowance. 

Cllr McGuinness said he gave a verbal reference for Ms Apine in respect of a private property on Old Bridge Street, in Freshford. It was part of his role as a public representative and there was nothing unusual about it. 

Stanley George, a taxi driver in Kilkenny, gave evidence to Mr Heneghan that Ms Apine called him three days before the incident giving rise to the trial. She wanted him to collect an airline carry-on case and two plastic bags and bring them to Mr Veigulis at the Kilkenny Design Centre, where he worked. Mr George said one of the bags was full of shoes and the other contained uniforms. He said the carry-on case weighed around 15 or 16 kilograms. 

Mr George told the jury that he was unable to deliver the items to the Kilkenny Design Centre, as requested by Ms Apine. It was the day Prince Charles was visiting Kilkenny and Main Street was closed. That evening, he brought the items back to Ms Apine. 

Landlord Seán Power gave evidence to Mr Heneghan that he owned the apartment rented by the couple in Freshford. 

He told Michael Bowman SC, for the defence, that they seemed like a pleasant couple and there were “no difficulties at all”. 

The trial continues on Monday 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. 

The jury heard on Wednesday the audio of Mr Veigulis’ 999 call. 

Speaking to an emergency call-taker with the National Ambulance Service, the jury heard Mr Veigulis say: “Hello can I talk with Kilkenny ambulance. Please, my wife has fallen down the stairs.”

The emergency-call taker accepted, under cross examination from Michael Bowman SC, 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.