Man accused of murdering wife told boyfriend ‘not to go near’ her, court hears

Renato Gehlen (39) has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Anne Colomines (37)

Melissa Courgeat, leaving the Central Criminal Court, Dublin, on Thursday after she gave evidence in the trial of Renato Gehlen for the murder of Anne Colomines, in October 2017. He has pleaded not  guilty. Photograph: Collins Courts

Melissa Courgeat, leaving the Central Criminal Court, Dublin, on Thursday after she gave evidence in the trial of Renato Gehlen for the murder of Anne Colomines, in October 2017. He has pleaded not guilty. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A man accused of murdering his wife discovered that she was seeing another man and sent him a message warning him “not to ever go near” her again, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

The court heard from work colleagues and friends of the deceased Anne Colomines who said that in the months before she died she had started a new relationship with a man she met during a holiday in France. They told the court that Ms Colomines wanted to divorce her husband and have a “fresh start”.

Ms Colomines, a 37-year-old French national who worked for Paypal, was found dead at the apartment she shared with her husband Renato Gehlen in Dorset Square, Gardiner Street, Dublin 1 on October 25th, 2017. Mr Gehlen (39), a Brazilian national, has pleaded not guilty to her murder.

Anne Colmines (37) died at her Dublin home in 2017.
Anne Colmines (37) died at her Dublin home in 2017.

Saide Lambattane told defence counsel Seamus Clarke SC that she worked with Ms Colomines at Paypal and they became friends after going to a hen party for a colleague in June 2016. They spoke often about Ms Colomines wanting a baby, but in 2017 Ms Colomines found out it would be difficult for her to get pregnant. She decided to get surgery to treat the problem but was “down and depressed” about it.

In July that year Ms Colomines told her friend that Mr Gehlen was blaming her for not being able to have a child. Having undergone surgery, Ms Colomines was released from hospital on September 6th and travelled to France the same day.

The witness knew that during a previous trip to France, in July that year, Ms Colomines had met another man. She told Ms Lambattane that she was in a relationship with this man. He was younger than she and was a family friend she had known for some time.

On October 3rd the witness recalled Ms Colomines telling her that she had told her husband she wanted a divorce. Three days later Ms Colomines went to La Rochelle in France where she was to meet a friend and her new boyfriend.

When Ms Colomines returned from the October trip she told the witness that she wanted Mr Gehlen to move out of their apartment but “didn’t want to throw him on the street”.

The witness told Shane Costelloe SC for the prosecution that on October 24th, the day Ms Colomines died, the deceased told her about a message Mr Gehlen had sent to Ms Colomines’ new boyfriend in France. Mr Gehlen told the man “not to ever go near his wife or don’t communicate with my wife any more,” the witness said.

She also remembered Ms Colomines trying to get documents to help Mr Gehlen with his visa because she didn’t want him to have problems after the divorce.

Work colleague

Melissa Courgeat said she started working with Ms Colomines in the business support department in Paypal in 2015 and they became friends. Ms Colomines was “friendly, welcoming,” she said. “We got along very easily, she was very nice.”

In the summer of 2017 Ms Colomines went to France and when she returned she told Ms Courgeat that she had met a man. They had gone on dates and were texting every day. Ms Colomines told her friend she wanted to divorce Mr Gehlen so she would “finally have her own life” but didn’t want to hurt her husband.

Ms Colomines also told her friend that Mr Gehlen was upset that she wanted a divorce and was trying to save the marriage.

On October 24th, the day Ms Colomines died, the witness spoke with Ms Colomines in the canteen at work. She said her relationship with Mr Gehlen was “not great” and that he had contacted Ms Colomines’ boyfriend in France. “We were wondering how Renato found out about [the boyfriend] and managed to send him a text,” she said.

Geraldine Mitane said she was friends with Ms Colomines since 2011 and remembered meeting Mr Gehlen in January 2012. He was a “normal guy” and she became friends with him and was a witness when Mr Gehlen married Ms Colomines at a civil ceremony in October 2012.

By 2017, she said Ms Colomines had become “very sad” and felt she was not getting the support she needed from her husband. Ms Colomine told her that Mr Gehlen was blaming her for not trying sooner to have a baby.

He was, according to Ms Colomines, “no longer the man she had met. He was pessimistic most of the time, negative.” She was considering divorce and said she “wanted to think about herself, her wellbeing and to have a fresh start.”

James Plasic said he is a manager at Sodexo, a company that provides catering and cleaning services to Paypal in Dublin. He said Ms Colomines asked him if he could find a job for her husband and Mr Gehlen started as an entry level catering assistant in 2017. The witness said he had noted that Mr Gehlen had no catering experience, having mostly worked in IT, but he found him to be a very good employee.

He took instructions well, would bring good ideas and got on well with other staff. “He was always smiling and well-mannered,” he said.

In October 2017 Mr Plasic remembered Mr Gehlen went home complaining of stomach problems but, having gone to a doctor, said he was suffering from stress and needed time off. Mr Plasic said he was concerned for his employee and told him the company would be there for him. Mr Gehlen never returned to work.

The trial continues in front of Mr Justice Michael MacGrath and a jury of five women and seven men.