Sentencing hearing in case of impeding murder investigation by simulating suicide of housemate

A mother of one will be sentenced on Wednesday for staging her housemate’s suicide in order to impede the prosecution of her boyfriend for strangling her. Her barrister asked for leniency, reminding the judge that she was in an abusive relationship with the killer at the time.

The killer himself was never charged due to his limited brain function arising out of an injury sustained months later while fleeing gardaí after a car he had hijacked crashed. He, a neo nazi, is currently living in a care facility, where he is spoon fed.

However, his 34-year-old former partner was before the Central Criminal Court today (Monday), having been convicted by a jury earlier this month. She was found guilty of impeding the killer's apprehension or prosecution, knowing or believing him to have murdered Antra Ozolina (49).

Egita Jaunmaize, of no fixed abode, admitted placing a blue cord around her fellow Latvian’s neck so as to simulate her suicide in order to make it more difficult to establish that her death was suspicious.

She had pleaded not guilty to carrying out the offence, without reasonable excuse, at their home at The Old Post, Main Street, Kilnaleck, Co Cavan on or about June 27 or June 28 2014. The mushroom picker told gardaí that she was in fear for her life and acting on her boyfriend’s orders at the time, having just seen him strangle Ms Ozolina.

However, a jury found her guilty by a majority of 11 to one.

Garda James McDevitt told her sentence hearing today (Monday) that the accused had alerted the authorities to what appeared ‘at first flush’ to be a suicide in her home. He told Patrick Gageby SC, prosecuting, that gardaí found the deceased’s body lying on her bathroom floor with a rope around her neck and an open bible and vodka bottle nearby.

The results of an autopsy by a non-forensic pathologist were also consistent with it being a tragic death.

However, the deceased’s employer rang gardaí and informed them that, on his and her colleagues’ knowledge of her personality, she was unlikely to have committed suicide.

Gda McDevitt agreed that this triggered a fresh look at the matter and a forensic pathologist found blunt force trauma to her body, along with death by asphyxiation.

The accused painted her boyfriend out of the picture in her first statements. She later explained that this was because he had a suspended sentence due to be activated in his native Latvia and did not want to come to garda attention.

She eventually admitted there'd been a disagreement between the two women, that she’d gone to bed, but woke to the sounds of screams. She said that she went into her housemate’s room and found her boyfriend ‘throttling’ her.

Once he had succeeded, he asked her to assist him in covering up by putting a rope around her neck so the death would appear like suicide.

She went on trial for assisting an offender, arguing that she was under duress and had a reasonable excuse, but the jury found that she had none.

She remained in a relationship with that offender until October 2014, when he hijacked a car and was involved in a large car chase across Co Longford. In trying to evade gardaí, he was knocked down by another car and suffered a severe brain injury.

Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending, put forward a number of factors in mitigation, including the killer’s violence towards his client. He also reminded the judge of a major trauma she had suffered as a child, which experts said had led to her getting into and remaining in the abusive relationship with the killer.

He asked the judge to take into consideration her role as a mother and the fact that, as a foreigner, she would have particular difficulties in custody here. He asked for a sentence at the more lenient end of the scale.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy will pass that sentence on Wednesday.

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