May 28, 2023

Freshford murder trial: Accused said he heard ‘boom, boom, boom’ before finding partner at bottom of stairs

A MAN on trial for murdering his partner at their county Kilkenny home told gardaí at the scene that he heard a “boom, boom, boom” before finding her at the bottom of their staircase.

Renars Veigulis (32) of Old Bridge Street in Freshford, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Rita Apine (29) at their home on or about May 14, 2017.

Mr Veigulis (pictured above with Ms Apine) told ambulance staff that his partner fell down the stairs, while prosecuting lawyers have told a Central Criminal Court jury they will hear evidence that her injuries were inconsistent with a fall.

Opening the trial on Tuesday, counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Vincent Heneghan SC, said the accused and the deceased were from both Latvia.

Mr Veigulus came to Ireland about five years ago, followed six months later by Ms Apine, and in 2016 they moved to Freshford.

Giving evidence, Garda James Keogh told the court he preserved the scene in the apartment and spoke to Mr Veigulis. He said Mr Veigulis was unsteady on his feet, so he sat him down at the kitchen table.

The accused told the garda he had been playing with his daughter in the living room when he heard a “boom, boom, boom” and Ms Apine crying. Mr Veigulis told the garda he went into the hallway where he found Ms Apine at the end of the stairs.

Kilkenny County Councillor, Andrew McGuinness, gave evidence that Ms Apine had come to his clinic in June 2016 seeking assistance in finding accommodation for herself and her daughter.

She also sought assistance in getting a lone-parent allowance.

Cllr McGuinness said he gave a verbal reference for Ms Apine in respect of a private property on Old Bridge Street in Freshford. It was part of his role as a public representative and there was nothing unusual about it.

Local taxi driver Stanley George gave evidence that Ms Apine called him three days before her death. She wanted him to collect an airline carry-on case and two plastic bags and bring them to Mr Veigulis at the Kilkenny Design Centre, where he worked.

Mr George said one of the bags was full of shoes and the other contained uniforms. He said the carry-on case weighed around 15 or 16 kilograms.

Mr George told the jury that he was unable to deliver the items to the Kilkenny Design Centre, as requested by Ms Apine. It happened to be the same day Prince Charles was visiting Kilkenny and Main Street was closed. That evening, he brought the items back to Ms Apine.

Landlord Seán Power gave evidence to Mr Heneghan that he owned the apartment rented by the couple in Freshford.

He told Michael Bowman SC, for the defence, that they seemed like a pleasant couple and there were “no difficulties at all”.

The trial continues on Monday before a jury of seven men and five women with Ms Justice Tara Burns presiding.


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