A mother has told the trial of a man accused of murdering her daughter of the moment she found her lying on her back in the kitchen, gurgling and gasping for air. "I couldn't recognise her face, I couldn't recognise it was Nadine," she said.
"I got down on the floor and said 'you're ok, we can do this'. I was doing mouth-to-mouth. It was absolutely excruciating, but I was doing what I could to try and save my daughter's life," Claire Lott told the murder trial at the Central Criminal Court this afternoon.
Ms Lott said she was blowing into Nadine's mouth, but the resuscitation was ineffective as the beauty therapist was just "gurgling" and she could not feel her chest inflate.
Opening the trial of Daniel Murtagh Tuesday morning, prosecution counsel John O'Kelly SC said Ms Lott suffered "severe blunt force trauma" and stab injuries at the hands of her former partner "in a sustained attack" in her Arklow home.
The barrister said the court will hear evidence that the injuries to Ms Lott were "so serious" that she never regained consciousness and died three days later in St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin.
Mr Murtagh (34), of Melrose Grove, Bawnogue, Clondalkin, Dublin 22 has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of his 30-year-old ex-partner Ms Lott at her apartment in St Mary's Court, Arklow, Co Wicklow on December 17th, 2019.
Giving evidence this afternoon, Claire Lott told Mr O'Kelly that Nadine was her second eldest child and she went to Australia in June 2012 on a work visa. She "did really well" working there in a beauty salon as she was a qualified beautician, the court heard. Ms Lott testified that Nadine had met Mr Murtagh in Darwin and recounted that all her daughter had said about him was that he was "funny''.
Ms Lott said her daughter returned to Ireland in May or June of 2013. She said that Mr Murtagh did not come home at the same time, but returned a few months later.
Recalling the events of the early morning of December 14, Ms Lott said her daughter Phoebe "burst into the room in a panic" at 4am and said "we've to go mammy" as "Dan has stabbed Nadine, we need to go now."
Ms Lott said she jumped out of bed and ran, telling the jurors: "I didn't even have shoes on me". Arriving at Nadine's apartment, Ms Lott said Phoebe ran inside first and the rest of them were behind her. The witness said she found Nadine on the floor and got down on the floor to talk to her.
"Nadine was on her back, her head was slightly tilted and she was gurgling and gasping for air. I couldn't recognise her face, I couldn't recognise it was Nadine. I said you're ok, I was saying we can do this," said Ms Lott.
The witness said she remembered gardaí arriving and a female garda contacted emergency services telling them it was "bad, what do we need to do".
Ms Lott said the female garda began doing compressions on Nadine's chest and she was doing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. "It was absolutely excruciating but I was doing what I could to try and save my daughter's life," she continued.
The witness said the mouth-to-mouth wasn't effective. "I was breathing into Nadine but she was gurgling. When I was blowing into her mouth I couldn't feel her chest inflate. I don't think anything I was doing helped really," she said.
Ms Lott said she was covered in blood and kept doing what she could until the ambulance arrived. She then left Nadine with the paramedics.
Earlier, Nadine's younger sister, Phoebe Lott, said she lived with her mother in Arklow and was "very close" to the deceased. "Even though there was six years between us, we had the same group of friends. It felt like I lost my left arm the day she left for Australia, but we spoke most days," she said.
Nadine had briefly told her about meeting Mr Murtagh, she said, and described him as "funny" and a "great laugh".
She said Nadine came home from Australia in June 2013. In August 2016, Ms Lott said that her sister and Mr Murtagh were supposed to move into a house together in Arklow but Nadine could not contact him to find out where he was. "She decided she had tried hard enough at that stage and the relationship ended," said Ms Lott.
Describing the events of the early hours of December 14, Ms Lott said Nadine's neighbour called her at 4.30am. "She said Dan had stabbed Nadine and we needed to come quickly. I ran into my mam and her partner and told them what had happened and that we needed to go," she explained.
Ms Lott said the door to Nadine's apartment was halfway open and she went into the sitting room, where pieces of glass from a broken mirror were everywhere. "I could see a lot of blood. When I walked I could hear the mirror crunching under my feet. I was in a panic trying to find her. I went straight down the hall towards the kitchen and saw her lying on the floor beside a cabinet with her feet at the sink," she remarked.
Ms Lott said Nadine was lying on her back, covered in blood and there were "wound marks" to the left side of her face. "Her lip was completely split, her eyes were really black and swollen. She was not conscious and was gargling and gasping for air," she said. The witness said her sister was in her bare feet and wearing her pyjamas.
Garda Ben Silverlock said he was the observer in a patrol car on the night of December 13th with his colleague Gda Linda Butler, when they received a transmission call at 4.29am regarding a domestic dispute at St Mary's Court. He said they met Ms Lott's neighbour outside her house and she was very upset and physically shaking. "She explained that there was a disturbance in the house and Daniel Murtagh had just left the scene and the female inside had bad injuries," he said.
When he walked into the apartment, Gda Silverlock said there was a lot of broken glass through the hall. Ms Lott was on the ground of the kitchen with her head resting on the skirting board. She had severe injuries to her face and neck and a lot of blood was lost, he said.
"I could hear gasping and gurgling as if trying to breathe, but she didn't seem to be conscious," he said. There were puncture wounds in her neck and the witness said he could barely "make out her face" as it was covered in so much blood. A silver canteen cutlery knife was beside her as well as broken glass and splintered timber in the area, he said.
The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice Michael MacGrath and a jury of seven men and five women. It is expected to last two weeks.