Victoria told me husband had tried to strangle her, Bangor woman's father tells murder trial
The heartbroken father of a Northern Ireland woman found dead in Sydney has claimed she was terrified of her killer husband.
Victoria Comrie Cullen (39), from Bangor in Co Down, was stabbed to death by her husband Christopher Cullen in a brutal attack in Sydney in January last year. She had been living in New South Wales, Australia, for a number of years.
Giving evidence via video-link from Northern Ireland, Ms Cullen's father John Waters told New South Wales Supreme Court - where his son-in-law is on trial for his daughter's murder - that he had regular conversations with her about leaving him.
Ms Cullen was stabbed 18 times by Cullen in a frenzied knife attack and her body dumped at a fishing club in Taren Point, in the south of Sydney.
Cullen (51) has pleaded guilty to manslaughter but not guilty to murder, saying he acted in excessive self-defence.
The court was told by Ms Cullen's father that in the months before she was killed she had complained that Cullen had tried to strangle her.
"She also told us during this period that he had tried to strangle her and that she believed it was a serious attempt to take her life," Mr Waters said.
"She was trying to find ways to leave, to get out as it were, but she was also frightened," he added.
When they spoke over Skype, Mr Waters said his daughter was often hiding in a cupboard or in the basement to talk as she had to be "secretive".
A friend and work colleague of Ms Cullen, who worked as a beauty therapist, also gave evidence to the court claiming that she was strangled and repeatedly raped by her husband months before he stabbed her to death.
Christina Acriuli, who was her boss at a hair and beauty salon, said Ms Cullen once lifted her uniform at work to show bruises on her arm and discussed leaving him, the jury heard.
She said it was difficult for Ms Cullen as she had no family in Australia.
"She had none of her personal money, she had no family in Australia and she didn't have close friends - the options were minimal," Ms Acriuli claimed.
"He had threatened to slit her throat, he had threatened to kill her," she added.
The couple's relationship broke down around four months before Ms Cullen's death, according to prosecutors.
It has been alleged that Cullen told his wife that if she did not move out of the family home he would kill her.
According to a prosecuting barrister, he accused his wife of having an affair and became more aggressive.
He even wrote abusive remarks about his wife on plasterboards and held them up outside the salon where she worked.
It has been claimed that Ms Cullen was so concerned by her husband's increasingly aggressive behaviour that she would only meet him in public places to sort out domestic matters.
A restraining order was taken out against him.
However, in January last year Cullen drove to his wife's house and a neighbour heard "a woman screaming and in pain" from a garage.
The court heard that the neighbour also heard a woman say "where are you taking me" and a man reply "wait in the car". The neighbour called the police.
Cullen then allegedly bought a black T-shirt and two knives from a nearby camping store and drove to an isolated outdoor area of the fishing club in Taren Point.
It is here where Ms Cullen's body was discovered.
Police were called and they saw Cullen emerging from the mangroves with knife wounds.
He allegedly told police that he and his wife had a fight.
"She stabbed me and I stabbed her", he told police, the court heard.
He said he didn't want to live and so went into the water and confessed that some of his wounds were self-inflicted, police have claimed.
His lawyer said that in the "circumstances of this case, he behaved in an excessive way and he lost his self-control".
The trial continues.