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Slain mum had a secret fund to flee 'erratic' husband, court told

By Claire McNeilly

Published 16/05/2015

Victoria Comrie Cullen was found with her throat slit in Sydney
Victoria Comrie Cullen was found with her throat slit in Sydney
Christopher Cullen

A Northern Ireland mum-of-three brutally killed in Australia had a secret fund to escape her husband, a court has heard.

Victoria Cullen, originally from Bangor, was found dead in a fishing club car park near a swamp in Sydney with her throat slit and 18 other stab wounds.

The 39-year-old beauty therapist's estranged husband Christopher Cullen (51) was spotted at the scene on January 22 last year with injuries and blood on his T-shirt.

The carpenter told police he and his estranged wife had a row and he "lost it", although he did not know what happened next.

Mr Cullen, originally from Liverpool, has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter on the basis of self-defence and provocation, but prosecutors have rejected that plea.

Yesterday, the New South Wales Supreme Court heard Ms Cullen had told a friend she wanted to leave her husband just weeks before she was killed.

Suzanne Larkin had been on a night out with the Co Down woman, known to her friends as Comrie, when she learned she was unhappy.

"She told me she had a secret fund that was for when she was going to escape," Ms Larkin said.

But under cross-examination, the witness admitted her friend later claimed to have spent the money.

Mr Cullen's barrister, Winston Terracini SC, said: "She said she'd blown a lot of money because she'd bought jewellery, isn't that right?"

Ms Larkin replied: "Yes, well she bought a ring." Earlier Lisa King, a former client at the beauty salon where Ms Cullen worked, said the Ulster woman had told her she was frightened of Mr Cullen, who had been sending her "erratic" text messages.

"Some of the messages were threatening, and then she'd receive one wanting to reconcile," Ms King added.

The witness also claimed Ms Cullen had told her that her husband had kicked her out of the house because she had arrived home late from a night out and he had jumped to the false conclusion that she had been seeing another man.

"She said that she had been accused of being out and having an affair, but she was actually with another lady," Ms King said.

"She said that when he kicked her out, she used it as a chance to escape the relationship."

Under cross-examination, Ms King conceded that she had never seen the text messages, and that Ms Cullen had never told her she was having an affair.

On Thursday, the court was shown CCTV footage of Cullen shopping for knives while it is believed his estranged wife was being held in the car.

The court previously heard the man who found Ms Cullen's body describe the scene as "horrific".

Fishing club member Wayne Eldridge told how she was in a "Muslim prayer position" (kneeling face-down with her hands out). The trial in Australia continues.

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