Belfast Telegraph

Black widows: two women driven to kill by years of violent abuse

By Deborah McAleese

They are two different women from different backgrounds with one thing in common — they both stabbed their partners through the heart during violent drunken rows.

Yesterday Belfast Crown Court was told that mother-of-one Angeline Mitchell (39) had shed no tears for her murdered boyfriend Tony Robin. But in the dock in courtroom 13 she struggled not to cry as she was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

In the next courtroom mother-of-two Aneta Sadowska (36) sobbed uncontrollably as the court heard how she had stabbed her partner to death just hours after their son’s Christening.

Just what was it that drove these women to kill?

The theme of violence and domestic abuse runs throughout both of these tragic cases. Mitchell stabbed her partner Mr Robin (44) several times during a blazing row in front of his teenage son at his Belfast home last year.

Initially Mitchell tried to blame the murder on a mystery blonde Swedish woman who she said had fled from the house |before police arrived.

She later said that she had struck out in self-defence, claiming that Mr Robin had tried to strangle her and had begun hitting her with a canoe paddle.

Mitchell’s daughter and mother sat in the public gallery behind a large number of Mr Robin’s family and friends as Judge Mr Justice McLaughlin said that the couple’s three-year relationship was a “turbulent and volatile affair”, “blighted by frequent abuse of alcohol, rows, verbal abuse and violence.”

A row erupted between the couple in the early hours of May 11, 2009.

The argument escalated and Mitchell grabbed a knife and “thrashed it about”, stabbing Mr Robin in the head, back and chest. He died from a stab wound to the heart.

The court heard that Mitchell has not demonstrated any |remorse for the murder and |admitted to a probation officer that she has been unable to cry.

She said that she was sorry she had taken someone’s life and that it will stay with her forever, but added that she was unsure of her feelings towards the victim at this time “as she had been so hurt by him”.

Dressed in black, Mitchell appeared to be fighting back tears as Mr Justice McLaughlin |sentenced her to 12 years in prison before she could be |considered for release.

He added that there is “the possible existence of a risk of |future dangerousness”, which is something that will be taken into account by the Parole Board before her release date.

After the sentencing, members of Mr Robin’s family wept, saying they did not believe the sentence was tough enough.

Meanwhile, Polish national Aneta Sadowska (36) was told yesterday that she will be |sentenced next week for the manslaughter of her 37-year-old partner Marek Seweryn on |December 15, 2008.

Sadowska stabbed Mr Seweryn with two knives in the stomach and chest, piercing his heart, during a drunken row after their son’s Christening.

The court heard that the couple began to argue over Mr |Seweryn’s lack of a job and the fact that he used Sadowska’s money to buy alcohol.

He then told her that she had “bad blood” because of the area in Poland she was from and that she should cut herself.

As the argument got out of control, Sadowska struck out with the two knives.

According to her defence lawyer, Sadowska’s upbringing was characterised by violence, including sexual violence, “to the extent that there seems to have been no place of safety |for her”.

She married a violent and controlling man in Poland when she was 26, but the relationship broke down when he ordered her to go to Northern Ireland to find work while he stayed at home in Poland.

The court heard that knives and axes often featured in the abuse she had lived through in the past.

Sadowska had then hoped to start a new life in the province when she met Mr Seweryn and became pregnant with his child.

However, that relationship also turned violent and abusive, the court heard.

Her lawyer said that Mr Seweryn would place a knife under her pillow and would often “goad” her over whether or not she was prepared to use a knife or not.

Sadowska, who is currently working as a cleaner, wept as the court heard how her son was currently in foster care.

She said all she wants “is to dedicate the rest of her life to her son”.

Mr Justice Hart adjourned sentencing for one week |and released Sadowska on |continuing bail.

The judge warned her however that this was not an indication that she would escape a jail sentence for killing Mr Seweryn.

A new start which ended in violence

A woman who stabbed her partner through the heart just hours after their son’s Christening, was violently abused throughout most of her life, a court was told yesterday.

Mother-of-two Aneta Sadowska (36) stabbed her partner Marek Seweryn in the chest and stomach during a drunken row in their Rathronan House flat on Hospital Road in Omagh on December 15, 2008. She pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

A pre-sentence hearing at Belfast Crown Court heard that Polish national Sadowska had planned to start a new life in Northern Ireland with Mr Seweryn after an abusive relationship with her husband in Poland broke down.

Her relationship with Mr Seweryn however also turned abusive, eventually culminating in a violent row that left the 37-year-old dead.

Prosecuting QC Margaret-Anne Dinsmore told the court that Sadowska, Mr Seweryn and his brother had consumed large amounts of alcohol after the Christening of the couple’s son and later that night a row erupted between the couple over Mr Seweryn’s lack of work.

After stabbing her partner with two knives during the row, Sadowska fled to a neighbour’s house and was found there by police in a “distressed and hysterical” state.

Mrs Dinsmore said there was a history of domestic violence and that neighbours and friends had reported hearing arguments and one report that Sadowska had tried to stab him before, but that the knife had broken.

Defence QC Eilis McDermott told the court that Sadowska’s upbringing had been characterised by violence “to the extent that there seems to have been no place of safety for her”.

Ms McDermott revealed that Sadowska's violent relationship with her “controlling” and “abusive” husband in Poland broke down after he sent her to Northern Ireland to work while he remained in Poland.

She met Mr Seweryn and their friendship turned into a relationship. However, it was also marred by violence, particularly after he lost his job.

Ms McDermott said that at this stage the couple did not have enough money to meet their commitments.

She added that Sadowska is completely committed to spending the rest of her life dedicated to the care of her son, who is currently with foster parents.

Adjourning sentencing until next week, Mr Justice Hart released Sadowska on continuing bail, but warned her the fact that his doing so was no indication that she would not go to jail.

Murderer blamed a mystery blonde

A mother-of-one who stabbed her partner to death during a drunken, violent row and then tried to blame it on a mystery blonde Swedish woman, was last night beginning a 12-year jail sentence for murder.

Angeline Sara Jane Mitchell (39) stabbed her 44-year-old partner Tony Robin in the chest and head at his Fitzroy Avenue home in Belfast on May 11, 2009.

His teenage son Thomas witnessed part of the attack after his father called out to him for help.

When police arrived at the scene of the attack Mitchell, from Lindsay Court in Belfast, fabricated a story that Mr Robin had been stabbed by a blonde Swedish woman who then ran out into the street and escaped.

Later Mitchell said she stabbed her partner in self defence after he tried to strangle her and then began hitting her with a canoe paddle.

Medical reports showed that after an examination at the police station Mitchell “had little sign of any injury at all, let alone signs of any serious attack upon her”.

Sentencing Mitchell at Belfast Crown Court yesterday Mr Justice McLaughlin said that he was obliged to take into account that the relationship between Mitchell and Mr Robin was “turbulent” and characterised “to some extent” by domestic violence.

He added: “I am also required to acknowledge that the defendant was in a position where she felt she was being attacked and was in danger.

“I am satisfied, therefore, that there was a perceived element of self defence in her actions, but, let it be absolutely clear that any reaction on her part was completely excessive.”

Mr Justice McLaughlin also said that while Mitchell had intended to cause Mr Robin serious injury he found that there was no specific intent to kill and there was a lack of any “obvious premeditation”.

He added that Mr Robin’s death has had a profound effect upon his sons, brothers and mother.

One of Mr Robin’s brothers had asked the court to hold Mitchell fully accountable for the murder. He asked the court to “reflect this by sentencing her to the maximum life sentence term that you can”.

The judge said that Mr Robin’s family all miss him greatly and have suffered a profound sense of grief since his death.

“It is clear that they, as the living relatives, have been victims in their own way of the actions of Angeline Mitchell,” he added.

The women who took lives

There are seven killer women behind bars in Northern Ireland serving life for murder.

The seven, including Angeline Mitchell, are locked up in the province's women-only prison, a special unit at Hydebank Wood in south Belfast.

Jacqueline Crymble

Crymble was jailed for 20 years for murdering her husband, Paul, on Father’s Day 2004 so that she could set up a new life with her lover Roger Ferguson. Mr Crymble was beaten by Ferguson before Crymble suffocated him with a black binliner.

Allison Martin

Alcoholic Martin is serving a life sentence for stabbing her drinking partner to death. Martin, who had a number of previous convictions for violence, met Geordie McDowell in Belfast city centre in July 2004. She took him back to a friend’s flat in Rathcoole where she said he could stay. A week later when he refused to leave, she stabbed him in the ear with a kitchen knife.

Julie McGinley

McGinley continues to protest her innocence. She conspired with lover Michael Monaghan to have her husband Gerry beaten to death in 2000 while their two children slept in the next room.

Fiona Jamison

Former dancer Jamison is |serving life for her part in the murder of a 31-year-old drugs courier. Jamison is one of |three people locked up after Wendy Woodhouse was |battered to death. Drugs-mule Woodhouse was murdered after being duped into paying £1,200 for a bag of parsley — believing it was marijuana — by a man she had gone to Walthamstow train station |in London to meet.

Lana Teresa O’Neill

O’Neill, who murdered her partner in an alcohol-fuelled rage, is serving a 10-year sentence. O’Neill killed Francis Saunders, her partner of three years, in a vicious and unprovoked attack. Her trial heard that O’Neill had not intended to kill Mr Saunders (46) and even attempted to alert the emergency services, but was so drunk she |mistook the TV remote control for a phone.

Brenda Meehan

Meehan is serving a five-year prison sentence for her part |in the killing of father-of-four Jim McFadden —beaten to death in Londonderry in 2007. Mr McFadden was killed outside his home in the Shantallow area. Meehan’s husband, James, was jailed for 14 years for Mr McFadden’s murder. Her son, Sean Devenney, was jailed for nine years.

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