'Cord put around neck of victim to appear like suicide', court is told
A 34-year-old Latvian woman has gone on trial accused of simulating the suicide of a housemate in Co Cavan almost four years ago, in which the deceased died from neck compression.
Egita Jaunmaize, of no fixed abode, is charged with impeding the apprehension or prosecution of Roman Ponomarcus, knowing or believing him to have murdered Antra Ozolina (49) or committed some other arrestable offence at The Old Post, Main Street, Kilnaleck, Co Cavan, on or about June 27 or June 28, 2014.
The prosecution alleges Ms Jaunmaize placed a blue cord around Ms Ozolina's neck to simulate her suicide, in order to make it more difficult to establish her death was suspicious.
Ms Jaunmaize appeared before the Central Criminal Court on Monday and pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Opening the prosecution case yesterday morning, Patrick Gageby SC told the jury that this trial concerned the death of Ms Ozolina, a Latvian national who was divorced but had some family.
Detailing the evidence that will be heard, Mr Gageby said Ms Ozolina lived in a house in the village of Kilnaleck with Ms Jaunmaize and the accused's boyfriend, Mr Ponomarcus.
Counsel said gardai were alerted that there had been an event in Kilnaleck and a number of people wanted to report this to gardai but they did not have good English.
This included the accused, said Mr Gageby.
Counsel said the jury will hear that gardai went to The Old Post, where they found the deceased in an en-suite bedroom.
The upper part of Ms Ozolina's body was in the shower tray, her face was blue and swollen and a nylon-type rope was around her neck, he said.
The rope was not attached to anything when gardai arrived.
Mr Gageby said Ms Ozolina's death was not deemed to be suspicious at that stage, but within a short period this changed.
Outlining the evidence the jury will hear, Mr Gageby said an initial post-mortem was performed on Ms Ozolina by a local pathologist, who was not trained in forensic pathology.
He said Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis was then asked to come in and he detected there was evidence of a crime.
Dr Curtis found evidence of blunt force injury to Ms Ozolina's head and face, and determined that her cause of death was neck compression.
Mr Gageby went on to tell the court that an investigation was undertaken and it was found that the rope's function around the deceased's neck was to give the idea that she had hanged herself and suffered asphyxia.
The evidence was that Ms Ozolina had not died by hanging herself, he said.
Mr Gageby said Ms Jaunmaize originally told gardai she had a row with Ms Ozolina on the evening of June 27.
She told gardai she had found Ms Ozolina's body the following morning when she went into her bedroom.
She said she then went to the house of a friend whose son spoke English in order to bring the incident to the authorities' attention.
Mr Gageby said she initially told gardai that Mr Ponomarcus was not present on the night.
"As a result of careful Garda investigation, it would appear the accused told gardai the argument was more than verbal and that in fact Mr Ponomarcus was involved," he said.
Mr Gageby added that Ms Jaunmaize ultimately told gardai she had observed her boyfriend take Ms Ozolina by the neck and he choked her to death using his forearm.
Mr Ponomarcus requested the accused put a rope around Ms Ozolina's neck, with a view to showing this was suicide and not murder, said Mr Gageby.
The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy.