Belfast Telegraph

Victoria Cullen murder jury sees pictures of her body as husband weeps

By Claire McNeilly

A man accused of the brutal murder of his Northern Irish wife broke down in an Australian court as autopsy photographs of her body were shown to jurors.

Bangor beautician Victoria Comrie Cullen was found dead in a fishing club car park in Sydney with her throat slit and 18 other stab wounds.

Her 51-year-old estranged husband Christopher Cullen, a carpenter originally from Liverpool, denies her murder on January 22 last year, but has pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the basis of self-defence and provocation.

The trial has previously heard allegations of domestic and sexual abuse and that Comrie Cullen was living in fear of her husband.

The court also heard evidence that Mr Cullen slashed his wife's throat because he believed she was "taunting" him with her sex life, a court has heard.

At his murder trial yesterday, Mr Cullen slumped down, put his head in his hands and wiped his eyes with tissues as jurors were shown autopsy photos of his 39-year-old estranged wife.

Forensic pathologist Istvan Szentmariay​, who performed the post-mortem examination on the deceased, told the New South Wales Supreme Court that Ms Cullen had a deep cut on her neck that reached her vertebra.

Dr Szentmariay said he also observed cuts on the victim's left hand, palm, and ring finger.

"I would look at them as defensive-type injuries.

"The nature of these injuries is consistent with grabbing a knife… or some kind of sharp instrument," Dr Szentmariay said.

He also told the court that Mrs Cullen had bruising on her forehead and on her lips, and a fractured nose.

The jury was shown photographs of Mrs Cullen's blood-soaked cream top, jeans and underwear.

She was found face down with her throat cut in the car park of St George and Sutherland Shire Anglers Club.

Dr Szentmariay also looked at photos of injuries to Mr Cullen, who told police his wife had stabbed him that day.

"The injuries are highly suggestive of being self-inflicted," he said, emphasising the location and nature of the wounds.

"The wounds, at least in the chest, are arranged in a group. Generally, if someone receives some stab wounds in a fight… it would be very difficult to inflict numerous stab wounds in the same place."

Under cross-examination from defence barrister Winston Terracini SC, Dr Szentmariay acknowledged he never examined Mr Cullen when he was injured and was only shown photographs of his injuries this month.

Dr Szentmariay also agreed that no one had told him Mr Cullen had suffered a punctured left lung.

Mr Terracini asked whether the injuries to Mrs Cullen's hand could have been inflicted while she was holding a knife.

"Based on the severity of the injuries on the deceased... it's highly unlikely," Dr Szentmariay said.

"In this case the extent of the injuries doesn't give me that impression."

Mr Terracini has told the jury they will hear from a forensic expert who could help support Mr Cullen's claims that Mrs Cullen stabbed him.

The trial continues.

Belfast Telegraph


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