Trial of man accused of murdering partner hears blood on clothing most likely from strike rather than CPR

A scientist has told the trial of a man accused of murdering his partner that she found blood stains on the accused’s clothing which, she concluded, was more likely due from a “strike” than from administering CPR.

Renars Veigulis (32) of Old Bridge Street in Freshford, Co Kilkenny has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Rita Apine (29) at their home on or about May 14, 2017.

Mr Veigulis told ambulance staff that his partner fell down the stairs, while prosecuting lawyers have told the jury they will hear evidence that her injuries were inconsistent with a fall.

Detective Sergeant James O’Brien, from Kilkenny Garda station, gave evidence today to Vincent Heneghan SC, for the prosecution, that he arrived at Old Bridge Street shortly after Ms Apine had been removed from the scene.

He said he looked in through the front door of the apartment at Old Bridge Street and could see a large amount of blood on the tiled floor.

Det Sgt O’Brien said he asked Mr Veigulis to accompany him back to Kilkenny Garda station to give a witness statement.

Det Sgt O’Brien said he explained to Mr Veigulis that he wasn’t arresting him and he’d be free to come and go. Mr Veigulis was “very forthcoming”, the detective said.

He said he was aware his superior, Superintendent Derek Hughes, had designated the apartment as a crime scene. It did not mean, at that time, that a crime had allegedly been committed but that the location was of interest.

Det Sgt O’Brien said he subsequently got a call from Supt Hughes in which he learned that Ms Apine had passed away.

As a result of that, the detective said he changed his mind and Mr Veigulis was no longer being treated as a witness.

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The detective said he informed Mr Veigulis that he was arresting him on suspicion of murder at 5.35pm. He said he placed his hand on Mr Veigulis’ shoulder and informed him why he was arresting him. An interpreter was present to provide translation.

In reply, Mr Veigulis said: “yes, so she’s dead?”, according to the detective.

Sandra McGrath, from the DNA section of Forensic Science Ireland, also gave evidence to Mr Heneghan today that she received a large number of items to examine, including a white hooded top belonging to Mr Veigulis.

Ms McGrath said there was a large amount of contact-blood staining on the sleeves of the top and the back of the hoodie. It was blood that had been transferred from a blood-stained surface to a non-blood-stained surface.

On the sleeve also was a spatter pattern. It results from a force being applied to wet blood. She said the forces could be made by a strike into wet blood or airflow from the body.

Ms McGrath said she had to consider the two alternatives, whether it was force from a strike or from administering CPR.

She said she concluded that the blood spatter patterns were more likely due to a strike rather than CPR or expiration from the body.

Under cross-examination from Michael Bowman SC, for the defence, Ms McGrath accepted that contact staining could be made by cradling somebody in one’s arms.

She also accepted that a “strike” was the application of force to wet blood. Mr Bowman said he didn’t want the jury getting a picture of “striking somebody”.

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The trial continues tomorrow before a jury of seven men and five women with Ms Justice Tara Burns presiding.

On Tuesday, Dr Stephen Doak, from Forensic Science Ireland, told the jury:

There was more to the event than someone just landing at the bottom of the stairs. These blood-staining marks are significant and I felt there was a forceful event that occurred at the time.

Dr Doak gave evidence that he observed a large area of blood-staining on the wall beside the first step of the stairs and there was contact blood-staining on top of the baby-gate, which was located at the bottom of the stairs. Dr Doak said he also found hair swipe blood patterns on the wall of the stairs.

He said he returned to the house at Old Bridge Street on May 17 and used a chemical based substance known as luminol which “lights up” blood in a darkened room as he had previously formed the opinion that something was not quite right, namely that there were “missing areas of blood”.

He said he sprayed the chemical onto the wall of the stairs and believed there had been a “washing up incident” of the blood-staining.

“The person who wiped this wall had a blood-stained sponge or cloth and left this marking which was not visible to the naked eye but was visible to the chemical eye,” said Dr Doak.

In conclusion, Dr Doak said that after he had used luminol he was of the opinion that there had been an active attempt to wipe out blood-stained patterns on the interior walls behind the front door.

Opening the trial last week, Mr Heneghan, for the DPP, said the accused and the deceased were from both Latvia. Mr Veigulis came to Ireland about five years ago, followed six months later by Ms Apine, and in 2016 they moved to Freshford, about 20 miles from Kilkenny City.

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On Wednesday, the jury also heard the contents of Mr Veigulis’ witness statement, made before he was arrested. In it, he said he was a restaurant assistant in the Kilkenny Design Centre while Ms Apine had been a professional poker dealer for Ladbrokes in Latvia. She stopped working shortly after moving to Ireland when she got pregnant.

Mr Veigulis said he worked the previous day from 2pm to 12.30am and, when he got home, Ms Apine and their daughter were asleep. He said his daughter woke him up at around 7.30am and they went downstairs to play some games.

He said Ms Apine woke up at around 10am. She came downstairs to make coffee and Mr Veigulis went to the shop twice to buy items like milk, bread and cigarettes.

Mr Veigulis said his partner had gone upstairs to put on makeup. When he was downstairs playing with his daughter, he heard “boom, boom, boom” and found her at the bottom of the stairs, the jury heard.

The jury has heard the audio of Mr Veigulis’ 999 call.

Speaking to an emergency call-taker with the National Ambulance Service, the jury heard Mr Veigulis say: “Hello can I talk with Kilkenny ambulance. Please, my wife has fallen down the stairs.”

The emergency-call taker accepted, under cross-examination from Michael Bowman SC, for the defence, that Mr Veigulis was clearly distressed and anxious. The jury could hear he was breathing heavily.

“Please, please very fast. All blood on the floor, please,’ the defendant was heard telling the emergency call-taker.


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