Murder-accused had 'history of jealousy'

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 16:04 27/06/2013
murder1.std
ON TRIAL: Mudiyanselage Viraj Wasantha Alahakoon.
murder 2 std
MURDER-ACCUSED: Thuvan Prawesh Sawal.

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A woman has told of a history of jealousy by murder-accused Mudiyanselage Alahakoon.

She was cross-examined about his jealousy by defence counsel John Brandts-Giesen, whose client is the other Sri Lankan man accused jointly of the murder of Sameera Bathtalage, who was also known as Sameera Chandrasena.

The alleged murder took place at Oxford on February 23 last year.

The woman, who spent part of three consecutive days giving evidence in the trial in the High Court in Christchurch, said today that Alahakoon, 34, was jealous of her being friendly with or working with other men.

She agreed that jealousy was a feature of their relationship and would emerge in floods of anger.

Then he would calm down and things would carry on as normal, she told Justice Christian Whata and a jury.

Alahakoon and Thuvan Prawash Sawal, 24, are charged with the murder of Bathtalage, 28.

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 Bathtalage died of multiple stab or cutting wounds to the neck and his body was then set alight with petrol at his Oxford house.

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

Brandts-Giesen suggested to the woman that she had told Sawal that she had liked him from the time they met.

He said Sawal would say that he was concerned that she was becoming too keen on him and he had withdrawn from going further.

She answered that she had liked him as a friend and just wanted to be friends. 

She said that after Alahakoon returned from Oxford, after the Bathtalage's death, he had told her that there had been a fight, and all three men had been involved.

She acknowledged that she had an unhappy relationship with Alahakoon, but she said she could not recall asking Sawal if he would be prepared to risk his friendship with Alahakoon to go with her. 

Cross-examined by defence counsel for Alahakoon, Pip Hall, QC, she told of Alahakoon being sad and angry when she admitted having a sexual relationship with Bathtalage.

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She spoke about 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.

The woman said that at some stage Alahakoon told her that Sawal was angry with Bathtalage.

Evidence is being translated into Sinhalese for the two Sri Lankan men on trial.

Today was the fourth day of the trial, which may last up to six weeks.

- The Press

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