Belfast Telegraph

Thug who murdered Ulster-born wife Victoria Comrie Cullen had a long history of violence

By Claire McNeilly

The man convicted of the brutal murder of his Northern Ireland-born wife in Australia had been jailed before for extreme violence, it has emerged.

Details of the violent criminal past of Christopher Cullen (51) came out during a sentencing hearing in Sydney yesterday.

Court documents also revealed that the carpenter, from Liverpool, had jumped up and down on a prison guard, smashed someone's upper jaw with a knuckle-duster and headbutted a police officer.

Victoria Comrie Cullen's battered body was discovered by a passer-by with 18 stab wounds - including two neck wounds that had cut down to her vertebrae - a broken nose and bruised eyes.

Earlier this month Cullen was found gulity of the murder of the 39-year-old mother-of-three, who was originally from Bangor, at Taren Point fishing club in south Sydney on January 22 last year.

The jury rejected his claim that he was provoked and acted in excessive self-defence when he killed his estranged wife with two fishing knives after concluding that the beauty therapist was having an affair. Prosecutors have called for Cullen to be sentenced to life in prison due to his history of violence.

Yesterday Crown prosecutor Siobhan Herbert said that the murder had been premeditated and had come after months of domestic violence and abuse that had led to an apprehended violence order being taken out against him.

"There was a degree of brutality, both in the nature of the injuries and the way they were inflicted," she said.

"The victim must have experienced a prolonged period of pain and terror which leads to the view that this would be an offence at the extreme end of offending."

The Crown presented evidence that he had committed a series of violent offences in England before moving to Australia.

Court papers reveal that when he was 20 and still living in the UK, he was convicted of assault for punching the manager of a public house in the face after he was asked to leave. In 1986, aged 22, he was convicted of another assault, this time after he kicked someone in the face.

Then, while on remand at Wormwood Scrubs Prison in London in the same year, he began an argument with a prison officer.

"This resulted in him punching and kicking and jumping up and down on the prison officer," the court papers said. Cullen was again convicted of assault and given a suspended sentence.

A year later, in 1987, he was at a building site in Ilford, north-east of London, when an argument broke out between him and his employer who owed him money.

Cullen then headbutted and punched him, fracturing the employer's cheekbone and nose.

Court papers also said Cullen headbutted and punched a police officer while being held in a detention room.

Finally, in 1994, he was sentenced to two years in prison after being convicted of grievous bodily harm in Essex.

Court papers said Cullen struck "the victim in the face with a knuckle-duster".

"The victim sustained a smashed upper jaw and will need surgery to rectify this."

But defence barrister Winston Terracini SC said that his client's previous offences were more than 20 years ago, and none of them had been committed in Australia. "There's no doubt there was violence, that there was at least some degree of aggravation, of deprivation of liberty, but there is not evidence of considerable pre-planning," he said. Cullen is due to be sentenced on July 2.

Belfast Telegraph


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