Strangled mother had bruises to her chin, scalp and arm

The jury in the trial of Rafal Karaczyn were given transcripts of "bickering" text messages between the deceased Natalia Karaczyn and her husband
Strangled mother had bruises to her chin, scalp and arm

Eoin Reynolds

A 30-year-old mother-of-three who was strangled to death by her husband had told him that she wanted him to leave her alone so she could have her own life, a Central Criminal Court trial has heard.

The jury in the trial of Rafal Karaczyn were given transcripts of "bickering" text messages between the deceased Natalia Karaczyn and her husband Rafal.

Mr Karaczyn repeatedly told his wife that he loved her and asked her to forgive him and give him another chance while she told him to stop texting her, said he was "crazy" and that she didn't want to be with him.

Chief State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan also told the jury that a bruise on Ms Karaczyn's arm "may have been defensive" and other injuries to her chin, above her eyes and on her scalp may have been caused "during an altercation prior to her death."

Asphyxiation

She said Ms Karaczyn died from asphyxiation due to the application of pressure to her neck and while her death would not have been instantaneous, Dr Mulligan could not say for how long the pressure was applied.

Rafal Karaczyn (35), of Crozon Park, Sligo, has pleaded not  guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of his wife, Ms Karaczyn, at their family home in Crozon Park between April 29th, 2018 and May 1st, 2018. Mr Karaczyn has admitted that he unlawfully killed his wife by strangling her and accepts that he alone caused her death. He is on trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Dr Mulligan told prosecution counsel Conor Devally SC that on May 1st, 2018 gardaí brought her to a wooded area off a secondary road outside Sligo where she saw the body of a woman in a body bag. The body was cold and rigid with blood pooling in the back.

Gardai told Dr Mulligan that the woman was married and lived with her husband and three children. She had been out socialising on April 28th and had consensual sex with a man she met. She was captured on CCTV returning home at 6.23am the following morning. At 8.15am CCTV showed her husband leaving in their car and returning 45 minutes later. The deceased was reported missing that afternoon by her sister.

The body, Dr Mulligan said, was of a slim, athletic adult woman, 1.7 metres tall and with long blonde hair. The pathologist noted petechial haemorrhages around the face and neck, which she said are consistent with asphyxiation, and multiple bruises and abrasions on the face, arms and legs.

Extensive bruising

An internal examination revealed bruising under the top of the scalp in two areas and at the back of the head. Extensive bruising around the hyoid bone in the neck, she said, was also consistent with asphyxiation. The level of alcohol in her blood and urine suggested she was "mildly intoxicated" at the time of her death but had not had a drink for an hour or two.

The cause of death, Dr Mulligan said, was asphyxiation due to the application of pressure to the external neck. There was no evidence of a ligature, she said, adding that manual strangulation was the most likely mechanism. She said the force used was sufficient to cause petechial haemorrhages, which are caused when blood vessels burst during strangulation. The hyoid bone, she said, was not fractured. The pathologist explained that the bone is often fractured in strangulation cases but in younger people it is more flexible and less likely to fracture.

The presence of petechial haemorrhages, she said, indicates that death was not instantaneous, but there is no reliable data on how long those haemorrhages take to appear. She added: "All we can conclude is death was not instantaneous in this case."

All we can conclude is death was not instantaneous in this case

Dr Mulligan agreed with defence barrister Brendan Grehan SC that when she arrived at the scene Ms Karaczyn's body had already been placed in a body bag. She said that in cases where the pathologist attends a scene, the body is usually left alone until the pathologist arrives. She said she doesn't know why that didn't happen in this case, but added that pathologists only attend 15 to 20 per cent of scenes and most of their information is obtained in the mortuary.

She further agreed there were no fractures on Ms Karaczyn's body and that the force used to strangle her was not sufficient to fracture the hyoid bone.

Phone messages

Det Garda Oliver McHale told Mr Devally that he retrieved a series of messages from Mr Karaczyn's phone dating back to December 2017. In them Mr Karaczyn told his wife that he would provide for her and their children and told her, "I am nothing without you" and "you really are my world." He asked her not to leave him and said: "Do it for me and the children."

Ms Karaczyn told him not to text her and not to talk to her, adding: "Go cry over yourself somewhere else." She described her husband as "hopeless" and told him: "After nine years you haven't a clue." Gda McHale agreed that a lot of the messages were "bickering" in nature.

In February Mr Karaczyn told his wife: "I miss you so much because I love you so much." She replied: "I don't miss you. I can relax here." She also accused Mr Karaczyn of "spying" on her.

Later he asked her for a "glimmer of hope" and she said: "There is no glimmer of hope.. one more word about this and you are moving out."

At one point she told him that he can stay, "if you leave me alone and I have my own life."

On March 4th Mr Karaczyn told his wife that he loves her and said: "Think about it again. Don't give up on me." She replied: "I said it's over, keep your secrets to yourself, good luck. I will never be with you anyway."

He said: "Don't do this. Don't end this. Give me some time, trust me," to which she said: "You are crazy. Leave me alone."

Five days later Mr Karaczyn asked his wife not to "throw" him out and asked her to give him a chance and forgive him. On March 26th, when Mr Karaczyn said to his wife, "don't leave me," she responded: "I already did."

In a sequence of texts she added: "Don't text me. I'm not going to repeat 1000 times, I'm sick of listening to the same thing over and over again, I'm an adult and I don't intend to explain where I'm going and what time I'm going to get back."

Det Gda McHale will continue his evidence tomorrow in front of Ms Justice Eileen Creedon and a jury of eight women and four men.

 

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