'I was forced to do it' - Woman accused of simulating suicide of housemate told gardai, court hears
A mushroom picker told gardaí that she was in fear for her life when she simulated the suicide of her housemate on the orders of her killer.
The 34-year-old Latvian woman in on trial at the Central Criminal Court, charged with impeding the apprehension or prosecution of a man, knowing or believing him to have murdered Antra Ozolina (49) or committed some other arrestable offence.
It’s alleged that Egita Jaunmaize placed a blue cord around Ms Ozolina’s neck so as to simulate her suicide in order to make it more difficult to establish that her death was suspicious.
The accused, of no fixed abode, has pleaded not guilty to carrying out the offence at their home at The Old Post, Main Street, Kilnaleck, Co Cavan on or about June 27 or June 28 2014. However, she accepts that Ms Ozolina’s death was not caused by suicide and does not dispute that another named person caused it.
Detective Garda Gerard Shaughnessy gave evidence today of interviews conducted with the accused afterwards.
She said that there had been a row in the house between her and the deceased in the presence of the killer on the night of June 27th. This man left, she said, and she went to bed.
However, she said that she woke to screaming and found this man assaulting Ms Ozolina in the deceased woman’s room.
“I tried to push him away but couldn't,” she said. “He punched me in the stomach.”
She said that he continued to assault her flatmate.
“He was choking her,” she said. “I heard her making a noise from her mouth. I asked what it was.”
She said that he replied that it was ‘a dead person’s noise’.
“I screamed: ‘I’m not going to prison because of you. I will tell gardaí. I have a child.’ He grabbed me by my neck.”
She said he told her that if either of them went to prison, she wouldn’t have him anymore.
“I was so afraid if I go to gardai he will kill me too,” she said.
“He said we need to set it up as if she done it herself,” she said. “He got a rope. He said to me to put it on… I was forced to do it.”
She said that he held the deceased up so that she could put the rope over her head.
“He did the rest himself,” she said.
She said she remembered very little after that as she was in shock.
She said that he woke her the next morning, and asked if she knew what happened.
“At first I didn’t, as I was still in a state of shock,” she said.
She said that she eventually agreed with his plan to tell gardaí that her flatmate had hung herself.
She kept to this line during a number of voluntary statements and in her first interview as a suspect, even suggesting that her flatmate had given herself the injuries found at autopsy.
The statements of other witnesses were then put to her, including one from a friend whom the deceased had rung that night to say she was in fear and was going to ring the gardaí.
The accused eventually agreed that she was under the duress of the man, whom she described as a ‘skinhead neo nazi’.
D Gda Shaughnessy said that the accused was released from custody following a number of interviews.
He recalled that he was driving in Cavan town a few days later, when he saw two people sitting together on a bench. He said he recognised them as the accused and the alleged killer.
The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of seven men and five women.