Murder accused displayed ‘ultimate in toxic masculinity’ by stabbing wife, court told

Closing speeches delivered in trial of Renato Gehlen over death of Anne Colomines

Renato Gehlen ‘lost control’ of his wife Anne Colomines and his marriage and could not handle it, so he stabbed her through the heart, prosecution counsel Shane Costelloe told the Central Criminal Court on Monday.

Renato Gehlen ‘lost control’ of his wife Anne Colomines and his marriage and could not handle it, so he stabbed her through the heart, prosecution counsel Shane Costelloe told the Central Criminal Court on Monday.

 

A man displayed the “ultimate in toxic masculinity” by stabbing his wife to death in an effort to control the end of their marriage, a prosecution barrister has told a murder trial.

Renato Gehlen “lost control” of his wife Anne Colomines and his marriage and could not handle it, so he stabbed her through the heart, Shane Costelloe SC said on Monday.

He said the accused’s actions that night were “the last roll of the dice” and amounted to “the ultimate in toxic masculinity by trying to regain what he saw as controlling the situation and him putting the final full stop at the end of their marriage, not her”.

Mr Costelloe was speaking during his closing speech in the Central Criminal Court trial of Mr Gehlen (39), a Brazilian national who has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Colomines (37), a French national, at their home on Dorset Square, Gardiner Street Upper, Dublin 1 on October 25th, 2017.

The trial has heard that Mr Gehlen, who denies murdering Ms Colomines, told gardaí that they had a fight about “another man”. He said Ms Colomines had a knife and he did not know if she was going to do something to herself or to him.

Struggle

The accused has said that he tried to grab the knife and as they struggled he heard Ms Colomines say “ah” and he lost his balance and fell to the ground beside a bed. She fell also, he said, and then used the knife to stab herself in the abdomen.

Mr Gehlen told gardaí it was “50/50 blame on both sides” and that he “tried to make her stop”. He said he then tried to kill himself because Ms Colomines was his family.

Chief State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan has given evidence that she found four stab wounds to Ms Colomines’ body, a 22cm wound to her throat and six incisions on her hands, which she said were consistent with defensive injuries.

Taking all the injuries together, Dr Mulligan said, it was “highly unlikely” the deceased stabbed herself to death.

Mr Costelloe on Monday told the jury there was a “catalogue of wounds” to Ms Colomines and if they decided that Mr Gehlen had perpetrated those wounds, they could be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that he had intended to kill her or cause her serious injury.

“You do not plunge a knife through the heart of someone penetrating the sac so it comes out the other side unless you intend to kill or cause serious injury,” he said.

Mr Costelloe submitted that the couple’s marriage was ending “if not ended”.

We live in the 21st century, the barrister said, and even if one’s wife is having an affair and is unfaithful that does not give one the right “to plunge a knife through her chest and kill her”.

Dating

He drew the jury’s attention to Mr Gehlen using his laptop eight to nine days before his wife had died to look up the Facebook profile of Ms Colomines’s new boyfriend and see if the deceased was on the Tinder dating application.

Mr Costelloe pointed out that these actions demonstrated the accused’s state of mind before he killed his wife.

The trial had heard that on the night Ms Colomines died, she exchanged 296 messages with her new boyfriend, whom she had met a few months earlier in France. The exchange ended at 11.06pm and emergency responders arrived to find her body in her bedroom less than 30 minutes later.

Furthermore, Mr Costelloe told the jury that Mr Gehlen had messaged his friend on Facebook just two hours before he allegedly committed the crime and said “I really want to stab”. He said there could be no reasonable doubt of what was going through the accused’s mind when he stabbed Ms Colomines numerous times.

‘Tragic case’

In his closing statement, defence counsel Seamus Clarke SC said this was “a tragic case from beginning to end”, no matter what version of events the jury accepted. He acknowledged that the couple had been “madly in love with each other” and married in 2012.

Mr Clarke noted that when Ms Colomines told his client that she wanted a divorce, Mr Gehlen did not know another person was in the relationship and that the accused “harboured the hope” that their marriage could be saved.

“It was unknown to him that she had a new boyfriend,” he added.

Unfortunately people who have future plans can end their own lives, Mr Clarke said, and submitted that the prosecution had not excluded the possibility that the deceased’s injuries were self-inflicted.

It was entirely possible that the “struggle over the knife”, where the accused said Ms Colomines plunged the knife into the middle of her chest, could have happened and if this “set of actions” was reasonably possible then the jury had a duty to acquit his client, he submitted.

In cross-examination during the trial, Dr Mulligan had agreed with Mr Clarke that she could not rule out entirely that the wounds to Ms Colomines were self-inflicted. She said given the different injuries it was “highly unlikely”, but “it can’t be 100 percent ruled out”.

Not acceptable

Whilst Mr Clarke acknowledged that it was not acceptable to spy on another person on their computer, it did not make his client guilty of anything beyond installing software on a laptop.

He noted that Ms Colomines suffered from depression and argued that one has no way of knowing how one would react in the given circumstances.

Mr Clarke concluded by saying that if the jury had a doubt then they must acquit Mr Gehlen and he asked them to return a verdict of not guilty of murder.

Mr Justice Michael MacGrath will complete his charge to the jury of seven men and five women on Tuesday before they commence their deliberations.