Fiance killer ‘called a rat and a dog’
WARNING: Disturbing content
A woman who stabbed her fiance to death in a "brutal and vicious attack" in their Sydney home was subjected to cruel taunts in which he called her a "rat and a dog", a court has heard.
Irish national Cathrina "Tina" Cahill, 27, today appeared in the New South Wales Supreme Court to continue giving evidence at her sentence hearing after she pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of David Walsh, 29.
Cahill and Mr Walsh were living in Padstow on working holiday visas, when she stabbed him in the neck during an alcohol-fuelled argument on February 18, 2017.
NEW SOUTH WALES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES
After Cahill and their two female housemates arrived home with Matthew Hyde, whom they had socialised with at a pub, Mr Walsh repeatedly attacked the man wanting to know who he was.
Cahill was punched by Mr Walsh when trying to stop the attack, before she took out a "large, very sharp, bladed knife" from the cutlery drawer and stabbed him.
According to court documents, Mr Walsh, also from Ireland, started to "bleed profusely with blood coming out of (his) mouth". He accepted a tea towel one of the witnesses passed to him and yelled "call an ambulance, call an ambulance", according to agreed facts tendered in court. He then walked outside and collapsed.
The father of three girls, who reside in his homeland, was pronounced dead at the scene after emergency services were called to the house on Watson Road.
Prosecutor Nanette Williams on Tuesday said Mr Walsh "had to die alone on a footpath in a foreign country".
Moments after stabbing Mr Walsh, Cahill turned to one of the witnesses and said: "he's gone mental... I can't cope no more. I can't believe what I just done (sic)", court documents allege.
In a police interview just hours after Mr Walsh's death, Cahill told officers: "I stepped in to help and I stabbed him. I stabbed him," court documents allege. The court heard the pair had a "two-way domestic violent relationship".
Cahill's father, David Cahill, today appeared in the witness box and told the court his daughter never had any behavioural problems prior to the killing. Cahill openly wept in the dock as her father told the court he wasn't aware at the time that she was in an abusive relationship and that he would have taken her home to Ireland if he did.
"To me, (she's) a brilliant person," he said when asked to describe her.
Mr Cahill told the court that the support "from people back home has been unbelievable". He said members of the family's community in Wexford had rallied together to pay for his daughter's court case.
Cahill told the judge she didn't leave Mr Walsh despite him being a "controlling and fairly unpleasant" man because she loved and adored him.
The court heard Cahill told police in September 2015, after an AVO was issued against Mr Walsh to protect her, that she was not fearful of him.
"I was in fear of getting in more trouble from David if I told the truth," she said.
"He would call me a rat and a dog."
She had packed her bags many times to leave him, but Mr Walsh would tell her everything was going to be different.
"He would be making me dinner, buying me flowers, buying me a teddy bear but after two to three weeks it would go back to the way it was," she said.
Cahill last week told the court she often woke up naked despite having gone to bed wearing pyjamas, and that she once found a photo on her fiance's phone of herself asleep with semen on her face. She said she confronted Mr Walsh about it but that he just laughed and said that "if I didn't have sex with him, he was going to get it anyway".
Cahill claimed Mr Walsh would show up at her work and make threatening gestures, which she demonstrated by tracing her finger across her throat. He would often grab and scratch her face and "constantly bite" her, Cahill said.
The court heard Mr Walsh once threw a glass bottle through a new TV, "would constantly break things in the house" and punch holes in the walls.
Cahill said that he repeatedly accused her of having affairs and that she couldn't even look in the rear vision mirror while driving in case a man was in the car behind them. If she looked in the direction of another man, he would tell her: "I hope you got a good look, slut", she said.
Cahill also told the court that on one occasion, Mr Walsh attacked a man at a hotel, because he spoke to her female friend.
"David came in and hit the guy so hard he landed on the floor," she said.
"He said 'he won't look at my missus again'."
Cahill painted a picture of a violent and controlling partner who she said blocked friends from her Facebook account, deleted messages and contacts from her phone and accused her of having an affair with her boss.
"There were 35 people that were blocked from my Facebook. Some of them were friends of his that I had never met," she said.
The couple left Ireland in 2013 to live in Australia. Prior to his death, Mr Walsh worked in construction and Cahill was employed with a traffic management company.
The pair had been engaged for just five weeks prior to the incident after Mr Walsh proposed on New Year's Eve 2016. Cahill said she wished she had a "time machine" to go back and change what happened.
"There is not a day that goes by when I don't think about David's family," she said when asked how she felt about having killed her fiance.
"I loved him so much.
"He told me no matter what I did I would never get away from him and if I ever got with anybody else he would make my life hell."
According to the agreed statement of facts, the couple went out drinking with others before they got into an argument and Mr Walsh went home, on February 17 last year.
Cahill, two female friends and Matthew Hyde - a man they had socialised with at one of the pubs - later turned up at the Padstow address where Mr Walsh appeared to be asleep on a couch.
Soon after, Mr Walsh woke up and attacked Mr Hyde, for being an unknown man in his house.
Cahill screamed: "Stop it Davey, get off, get off … he's with Grace."
She tried to get a grip of her fiance's arms when he swung his arm back and she fell to the ground, according to the statement of facts.
She moved towards him and punched him in the face with a closed fist, before Mr Walsh pushed her again and tried to punch her in the face.
Eventually, "the offender opened and closed the cutlery drawer quickly taking out a large, very sharp, bladed knife".
One witness heard Mr Walsh repeatedly say "put it back" but Cahill replied: "No, he needs to be taught a lesson. It's not fair. Look at poor Matthew."
The court previously heard that Cahill was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder when she fatally stabbed her fiance. She was due to face an eight-week murder trial in the NSW Supreme Court until the charge was downgraded from murder and she pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Cahill admitted unlawfully killing Mr Walsh - who was also from County Wexford in southeastern Ireland - between February 17 and 18 in 2017.
Prosecutor Nanette Williams said the Crown accepted the plea to the less serious offence on the basis that Cahill was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder at the time.
Her barrister, James Trevallion, said the substantial abnormality of mind was caused by Mr Walsh's conduct towards his client, submitting that the judge needed to be aware of the "extent of the provocation and controlling behaviour by the deceased" in the days and weeks leading up to his death.
"How degrading and psychologically damaging and violent that behaviour was," Mr Trevallion said.
The court previously heard that the couple's relationship was "violent" and "degrading" and that Mr Walsh often abused Cahill.
"Then they decided to get married not long before this event … with the psychological consequences these things had on her," Justice Johnson said.
They'd had a "stormy" relationship for years and that Cahill had repeatedly stabbed Mr Walsh in the back of the head 18 months before knifing him again in a fatal attack.
Earlier this month, one of the couple's former housemates, UK citizen Isobel Jennings, testified that the couple was arguing on October 3, 2015 when she saw Cahill appear at the top of the stairs with her hand behind her back. Ms Jennings said Mr Walsh was "sitting on a sofa with his head in his hands" when Cahill suddenly stabbed him in the head three or four times.
"I just thought she was hitting him but after a few seconds, I realised she had a knife," Ms Jennings said.
Ms Jennings denied that she was lying, when she recalled Cahill saying: "I just wanted to kill him. I just wanted to kill him." Cahill offered a different version of events and argued that Mr Walsh had a knife in his hand and blocked her exit when she tried to leave their bedroom. She said she went to grab the knife but in doing so cut her own hand and then the back of his head
Ms Williams suggested she was lying because she knew Ms Jennings' evidence was "damning" about her intentionally going downstairs to get the knife and stab Mr Walsh.
"That isn't true," Cahill replied.
Justice Johnson noted that Cahill was convicted in April 2016 of reckless wounding for injuring Mr Walsh by throwing a large candle stick at him in November the previous year. She was subsequently placed on a two-year-bond, at Waverley Local Court.
Irish newspapers have previously reported Mr Walsh had fled the country after being charged with assaulting his former partner, three Irish police officers and a man whose ear was partially bitten off.
He was one of seven children, who were living in Ireland along with their parents, at the time of his death.
The court on Thursday heard victim impact statements written by four of Mr Walsh's brothers which were read out on their behalf.
According to Mr Walsh's brother Jonathan, their father was devastated when he learned he had lost a son, and said: "I don't want him up there on his own son. I am going to be with him soon." He died 10 months later "from a broken heart", according to another one of Mr Walsh's brothers, Patrick. The court heard their mother had never been the same since Mr Walsh died.
The hearing continues.
QUEENSLAND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES