COURTS

Trial of Midlands woman accused of stabbing boyfriend to death opens at Central Criminal Court

Alison O’Riordan

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Alison O’Riordan

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news@offalyexpress.ie

Trial of Midlands woman accused of stabbing boyfriend to death opens at Central Criminal Court

Central Criminal Court

A woman has gone on trial at the Central Criminal Court accused of murdering her boyfriend by stabbing him in the chest in her Co Tipperary home over two years ago.

The accused and deceased were in a “tempestuous and volatile relationship” which was “violent at times” and the prosecution contends there is “no question of self-defence” in the case, the court has heard.

Inga Ozolina (48), originally from Latvia, but with an address at Old Court Church, Mounthrath, Co Laois has pleaded not guilty to murdering Audrius Pukas (43) at The Malthouse, Roscrea, Co Tipperary, on November 20, 2016.

In his opening address, prosecuting counsel Paul Murray SC said that Ms Ozolina and Mr Pukas had both been residents in Ireland for many years.

Mr Pukas was originally from Lithuania and he would stay at Ms Ozolina’s apartment in Roscrea, said Mr Murray, adding that they may have had Russian as a common language.

Outlining the facts of the case, Mr Murray said that Ms Ozolina and Mr Pukas had been in a relationship for a few years and the jury will hear that this was a “tempestuous and volatile relationship” which was “violent at times”. The jury will also hear evidence about gardai being called to the property they resided at, he added.

Detailing the evidence that will be heard, Mr Murray said that Ms Ozolina was living in an apartment in Roscrea in November 2016 and it was leased by her.

In the early hours of November 20, Ms Ozolina arrived at Roscrea garda station. Following this, gardai went with the accused to her apartment and found Mr Pukas’ body in a bedroom.

“By the time gardai arrived, Mr Pukas was clearly deceased,” said counsel. 

The prosecution barrister went on to tell the court that a post-mortem was carried out on Mr Pukas and the jury will hear that three knife wounds were found on his body, one of them fatal in nature.

Mr Murray said that Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis will give evidence that the fatal wound was to the left-hand side of the deceased’s chest and it had penetrated to a total depth of 25.5cm.

“In its course this wounded the left lung, heart, aortic valve, left pulmonary artery and aorta,” said counsel. 

As a result of the wound, there was “massive haemorrhaging” to his left chest cavity and into the sack around the heart, he explained, adding that death would have ensued rapidly.

There were a second wound to the outer aspect of his right upper arm which had penetrated into the muscle to a depth of 13cm, he outlined. The third wound to the left-hand side of his chest was very superficial and more of an abrasion.

Mr Murray also indicated to the jury that they will have to consider the defence of self-defence. Evidence will be that Ms Ozolina told gardai that a physical altercation had occurred between her and Mr Pukas on the night and she had picked up a knife, he said. 

He explained that the State’s case would be that self-defence does not apply in this incident and Ms Ozolina used the knife to kill Mr Pukas and had the intention of doing so at the time.

The barrister asked the jury to consider a number of questions during the trial including “how was the fatal knife wound inflicted on the night in question” and “what happened to the knife afterwards”.

In conclusion, Mr Murray said that if the jury are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Ms Ozolina is guilty of murder, then the verdict should be murder.   

The trial continues on Thursday before Mr Justice Alexander Owens and a jury of seven men and five women. It is expected to last between three and four weeks.