Murder-accused upset over affair

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 14:00 27/06/2013

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A woman has told of how a man accused of murder was sad and angry when she admitted having a sexual relationship with his alleged victim.

Mudiyanselage Viraj Wasantha Alahakoon, 34, is one of two men on trial in the High Court in Christchurch charged with the murder of Sameera Madurangana Manikka Bathtalage, 28, who the woman admitted having a relationship with.

The other man charged with murder is Thuvan Prawash Sawal, 24.

The woman continued to give evidence today on the fourth day of the trial before Justice Christian Whata and a jury.

Alahakoon and Sawal are said to have killed Bathtalage in Oxford, North Canterbury, on February 23 last year. They also face a joint charge of arson of a house in Domain Rd, Oxford, on the same date.

Alahakoon, a jeweller from St Albans in Christchurch, also faces charges of assaulting the woman and assaulting her with a pair of scissors on two dates in December 2011. The woman has name suppression.

The men deny all charges and are accusing each other of having carried out the murder and arson.

The Crown alleges that the two men caused multiple stab or cutting wounds to Bathtalage's neck and then set his body alight with petrol at his Oxford house on February 23, 2012.

It alleges that they had a common purpose to commit the murder and arson.

A woman told the trial of her concerns about Alahakoon drinking, smoking and gambling.

She said these problems pre-dated the February 2011 earthquake, when the jewellery business where he worked was destroyed.

He later lost that job and tried to set up his own jewellery business based in his garage.

She gave evidence that he had threatened to kill her in early February 2011.

She has acknowledged in her evidence having a sexual relationship with Bathtalage, after speaking to him about the problems with Alahakoon. The relationship with Bathtalage finished in June 2011.

Alahakoon had become suspicious about the relationship but she had denied it. She believed he would discuss the relationship with Sawal.

She told of Alahakoon cutting her long hair with scissors on December 5, 2011. She believed the cutting was a "symbol of shame". He had later indicated he was sorry for doing it.

About a week later, she had told Alahakoon about the relationship. He had been "sad and angry" and had become extremely upset.

Evidence is being translated into Sinhalese for the two Sri Lankan men on trial. The trial may last up to six weeks.

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- The Press

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