Thursday 23 March 2017

Christopher Cullen murder trial: Friend of Irish wife Victoria Comrie Cullen tells court husband 'threatened to slit her throat'

Comrie Cullen
Comrie Cullen
Christopher Cullen
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Murder accused Christopher Cullen threatened his Irish wife Victoria Comrie Cullen so often that it almost became a joke between her and a close friend, a court in Sydney has heard.

Christina Acruili, who was Ms Cullen's boss and and friend, told the NSW Supreme Court: "He had threatened to slit her throat, he had threatened to kill her regularly."

Continuing her evidence, she added: "In a way, it had become, between us, a bit of a laugh, but not in a funny way, how many times she was going to be killed in one week."

The body of Victoria Comrie Cullen (39), who was originally from Bangor in Co Down, was found in the car park of a fishing club at Taren Point on January 22nd of last year.

Read more here: Husband 'slit throat' of Irish wife over alleged affair, Australian court told  

Her throat had been cut and her face was bruised, the court previously heard.

Christopher Cullen (51), the husband of Ms Cullen, is pleading not guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter on the basis of self-defence and provocation.

Ms Acriuli told the trial that Ms Cullen worked for her at the Sylvania Waters beauty salon.

The witness told the trial Ms Cullen described her husband as a bully, who called her a "slut" and a "whore". She also told Ms Acriuli that her husband "forced" her to have sex with him.

At one stage, Ms Acruili cried as she gave evidence to the court.

"She told me that her sexual life was forced upon her when he wanted it, that she would pretend to be asleep sometimes.

"He had forced himself upon her sexually many, many times. I find that just so sad," she said.

According to the witness, money was a point of tension within the marriage, but she had understood Mr Cullen had stopped his Irish wife from working full-time.

The couple had separated in October 2013. Ms Acriuli told the court she co-signed a lease agreement for Ms Cullen, but she knew it was unlikely her part-time wages would allow her to meet the rent requirements.

"I felt there was no option. Somebody had to help her," she added.

The murder trial heard evidence from a number of employees from Sylvania Waters salon.

Witnesses said they saw Mr Cullen "dump" his wife's belongings outside the salon as well as hold up signs accusing her of sleeping with clients.

Previously, the court heard Mr Cullen believed his wife was having with a client named Shannon.

Witness Shane Theodore told the court he received a number of messages from Mr Cullen addressing him as 'Shannon'.

One of the messages read: 'Hey dickhead, no good chatting up Comrie, you have her good luck.'

However, Mr Theodore told the court there was no sexual relationship between himself and the victim. He told the court he was Ms Cullen's client, and he saw her in the salon or at his home to have his back and shoulders waxed.

Earlier, defence counsel for Mr Cullen Winston Terracini SC told the trial they would hear medical and forensic evidence that would "go to Mr Cullen's claims" that his wife stabbed him, and he acted in self-defence "albeit excessively".

Mr Terracini told the jury his client was relying on the partial defence of provocation.

"You will hear that this couple fell within the.... standards of ordinary domestic husband and wife, living in a normal environment in the city of Sydney.

"But marriages fall apart... and emotions, at times, run very high," he said.

The trial is expected to continue tomorrow before Mr Justice Ian Harrison.

At the time of Ms Cullen's murder, a PSNI statement on behalf of her family in Northern Ireland said they were "devastated" by her death. The trial continues.

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