Man accused of ‘frenzied’ murder of ex-partner faces court

A TWEED Heads man accused of fatally stabbing his former partner 36 to 37 times has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Paul Thomas Ryan, 66, was arraigned before Lismore Supreme Court on Monday, where he entered a not guilty plea to one count of murder.

However, he did plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter, which the Crown prosecutor ultimately rejected.

Mr Ryan is accused of stabbing his former partner, 63-year-old Maree Van Beers between "36 to 37 times" in their shared unit on Brett St, Tweed Heads, on November 12, 2018, the court heard.

The Crown Prosecutor told the court the pair, who had been together for 37-years, had separated about two years before the incident but continued to live together along with their adult son.

That same day, Mr Ryan had attended Tweed Heads Court and was issued with an apprehended violence order taken out by Ms Van Beers.

He had then allegedly gone to Tweed Heads Bowls Club for several hours after court before heading back home where Ms Van Beers was found cooking in the kitchen.

It is alleged Ms Van Beers called her sister and screamed "he's got a knife to my throat; he's going to kill me".

The Crown Prosecutor said it was during this alleged phone call neighbours tried to enter the unit after hearing screams from inside.

He said the "frenzied attack" by Mr Ryan was a result of "anger, jealousy and the refusal to accept the termination of their relationship".

It is understood Ms Van Beers had planned to travel to Taree the next day to find accommodation with her new partner and was ultimately leaving Mr Ryan despite their relationship having ended two years prior.

But Mr Ryan's defence barrister, Jason Watts, said his client was "substantially impaired at the time he killed" Ms Van Beers because of a cognitive impairment brought on by long sustained alcoholism.

While he admitted there would be little dispute over the actual killing of Ms Van Beers, Mr Watts said medical evidence showing Mr Ryan's mood disorder indicates his client's "ability to control himself".

"(His mood disorder is) a condition which has been very long standing, he has been receiving treatment for many years," Mr Watts said.

"(People close to Mr Ryan can confirm he was) getting much worse, an exacerbation from 2016, and then a real deterioration in 2018."

The trial will continue on today (Tuesday) in the Lismore Supreme Court.


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