Friday 20 April 2018

Dutch man jailed for killing his Irish wife with hammer

The man was sentenced to 15 years in jail for the murder of his wife (Stock Picture)
The man was sentenced to 15 years in jail for the murder of his wife (Stock Picture)

Isabel Conway

A Dutch man has been jailed for 15 years for the murder of his Irish wife at their home in the Netherlands.

The three-judge court in the city of 's-Hertogenbosch described the murder of Martina O'Brien Viguurs (64) by her husband, Arnold Viguurs (63) on November 9 last year as "a shocking act of violence".

Mrs O'Brien Viguurs, originally from Rathkeale, Co Limerick, was bludgeoned with a hammer and then strangled by her husband.

Sentencing Viguurs to 15 years yesterday, the judges said a severe punishment was necessary because of "the immense pain, suffering and loss her death had caused to her eight children and 11 grandchildren".

The court said Mrs O'Brien Viguurs was a kind woman, devoted to her family, and had been looking forward to moving back to Ireland to be near them.

She had died needlessly at the hands of a callous coward, whose only way out of telling her the truth about their financial problems was to cold- bloodedly plot and carry out her murder, the court found.

On the day when Mrs O'Brien Viguurs, a former nurse and air hostess, believed the couple were due to catch a flight to Ireland to visit family and view houses to buy, she lay dead in the living room of their home.

Viguurs, a former estate agent, told his trial two weeks ago that he killed his wife because he was desperate and afraid to admit that in fact they could not travel to Ireland as there was no money to buy a new home or even pay for the airline tickets.

He had lived a lie for years, telling his wife that they would have enough money to retire comfortably and move back to Ireland after selling their home in Den Bosch, a small city 100km south of Amsterdam.

He finally told her the truth - that debts had eaten up their entire savings from his half of a local real estate business that he sold in 2013 and that there was nothing left, before killing her.

He claimed that it was a spur-of-the-moment action.

However, under questioning, he admitted that he had thought about ways of killing her the previous night as an escape from coming clean about their financial problems.

When he told her that he planned to end his own life in 2014 because he was so desperate about money, she begged him not to do so, saying she could not live without him.

The killer wrote a suicide letter two days before the murder, saying: "Tina, I have always loved you. I am sorry I have made such a mess of our life.

"I hope you can forgive me. I can't leave you behind in the trouble I've caused. I hope you find peace in heaven."

"I realised that if I was to kill myself, I had to take her with me," he told the court. However, after killing his wife, he was unable to commit suicide.

Forensic evidence showed that Mrs O'Brien Viguurs suffered injuries consistent with an attempt to defend herself.

But it was strangulation, not the hammer blows, that caused her death.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News