Woman accused of simulating house-mate's suicide to impede neo-nazi boyfriend's apprehension feared for her life, court hears
A woman charged with impeding her abusive boyfriend’s prosecution by simulating the suicide of the woman he strangled would have found it difficult to defy him; she had been the victim of a violent crime in childhood and feared he would kill her too.
A psychiatrist gave the evidence to the Central Criminal Court on Monday on the fifth day of the mushroom picker’s trial.
The 34-year-old Latvian woman is charged with impeding the apprehension or prosecution of the man, knowing or believing him to have murdered her 49-year-old housemate, Antra Ozolina (49), or committed some other arrestable offence.
It’s alleged that Egita Jaunmaize, of no fixed abode, 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 mother of one 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 her former partner caused it. She told gardaí that she was in fear for her life and acting on his orders at the time.
The trial has already heard that he has not been charged. The neo-nazi is currently being spoon fed as a result of a traumatic brain injury sustained months later while fleeing after a car he had hijacked crashed.
The gardaí were on the scene immediately and he was rushed to hospital. The accused woman’s half brother had been driving and was apprehended nearby.
Consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Ronan Mullaney testified on behalf of the defence. He had been asked to assess the accused woman’s personality in the context of an abusive relationship and explain issues relevant to the defence of ‘reasonable excuse’.
He said that, at the age of 12, she had been the victim of a violent crime for which one of her attackers had served time in prison.
He told Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending, that victims of such crimes in childhood and adolescence often make poor relationship choices as adults.
“There is a blunting in their ability to recognise potential danger in others,” he explained.
He said that he was of the opinion that she was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder when he met her. He said that this was most likely related to this childhood experience, along with witnessing her partner strangling her housemate and having her life threatened by him.
He said that her overall life pattern and relationships would indicate that she probably underestimated potential threats. He said she had the ‘potential to be re-victimised, getting into abusive relationships again and again’.
“Her experience in childhood left her more vulnerable to relationships with controlling, abusive partners,” he explained.
“He was a dominating, threatening and psychological and physically abusive man,” he said, having read a number of statements from people who had witnessed his violence.
“She would have limited ability to defy such a person,” he said.
“When he gets very angry, you look at his face and when he’s like that, you sh*t your pants,” she had told him.
He was asked about the factors that would lead women to get into abusive relationships.
“Any trauma, physical, emotional or sexual, in childhood statistically makes someone more vulnerable to being re-victimised,” he said.
He added that ‘early traumatic victimisation’ created an increased sense of powerlessness and impaired coping mechanism. Those who have been victims tend to remain in abusive relationships, he said.
Under cross examination by Patrick Gageby SC, prosecuting, he agreed that the accused had known that this man had just been released from an eight-year jail sentence in his native Latvia when she met him.
He agreed that she also knew about his neo-nazi and racist ideology, complete with ‘a very large swastika’ tattooed on his chest.
“He gave her to understand he had changed while in prison,” said the doctor.
He was asked about what she had told him about initially lying to the gardaí and fearing that they wouldn’t protect her.
“She was quite concerned that he was actually released from custody,” replied the doctor.
“Homicide rates are recorded by the UN around the world,” he added. “There are only six countries in which women are more likely to be victims of homicides than men. One of them is Latvia.”
The defence has now closed its case. The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of seven men and five women.