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'Highly unlikely' Anne Colomines stabbed herself to death, pathologist tells court

Renato Gehlen has pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife at the apartment they shared in 2017.

Anne Colomines.
Anne Colomines.
Image: Facebook

A PATHOLOGIST HAS told the Central Criminal Court trial of Renato Gehlen, who denies murdering his wife Anne Colomines, that it is “highly unlikely” the deceased stabbed herself to death.

Chief State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan said she found four stab wounds to Colomines’ body, a 22-centimetre incised wound to her throat and six incisions on her hands that she said were consistent with defensive injuries.

Taking all the injuries together, she said, it is “highly unlikely” she inflicted them herself.

The pathologist said the fatal stab wound entered the right side of the chest between the fourth and fifth ribs and went to a depth of 20 centimetres, entering and exiting the lower chambers of the heart.

A 22-centimetre incision to the neck, she said, did not damage any blood vessels or nerves but did damage muscles.

The wound was “jagged” which the pathologist said suggests the sharp instrument that caused it passed over more than once.

The neck wound would have been “very painful”, would have caused extensive bleeding and would have made it difficult for her to move her head, the pathologist said.

Shane Costelloe SC, for the prosecution, asked Dr Mulligan for her opinion on the proposition that Colomines “plunged the knife into her own chest, inflicting the wound that caused her death.”

Dr Mulligan said the fatal wound was “not consistent” with being self-inflicted.

She also pointed out that Colomines had wounds to the right and left of the abdomen, which would require the person to use both hands.

“A person is unlikely to use a weapon in both hands separately” when inflicting wounds on themselves, she said, adding: “It is highly unlikely they would have switched hands.”

She also noted that Colomines was right-handed and the injury which caused her death was to the right side of the body.

“A right-handed person would tend to inflict an injury to the left side of the body,” she said.

The wound depth, at 20 centimetres, made it “unlikely she could have carried it out herself,” Dr Mulligan added.

The pathologist also noted that there were no “tentative wounds” around any of the four stab wounds. She explained that it is usual to see tentative or superficial wounds near the site of a self-inflicted stab wound where the person hesitates before stabbing themselves.

The injuries to the palms of the right and left hands, she said, were consistent with defence wounds where a person blocks an attack using their hands. These wounds were “quite deep and not consistent with self-inflicted wounds,” she said.

The pathologist agreed with defence counsel Seamus Clarke SC that she could not rule out entirely that the wounds were self-inflicted. She said that given the different injuries, it is “highly unlikely”, but, she added: “It can’t be 100 percent ruled out.”

Gehlen (39), a Brazilian national, has pleaded not guilty to murdering his 37-year-old French wife at the apartment they shared in Dorset Square, Gardiner Street, Dublin 1 on 25 October 2017.

Earlier, Feargal McCauley told Costelloe that Colomines had exchanged 296 messages with a man she had met in France during the summer of 2017.

The pair repeatedly said they loved one another and were planning for him to come and live in Ireland.

They were joking about animals and pets when, at 11.06pm, Colomines sent her last message, which read: “Poor thing.”

Six minutes later, the French boyfriend replied, “ha ha”.

Seven minutes later, at 11.13pm, McCauley said the accused had a phone conversation with his friend Ralph Comendador.

Comendador previously told the trial that Gehlen told him during that phone conversation: “Sorry, I killed Anne and now I’m going to kill myself.”

Detective Garda John Dunne of the cyber security division based at Harcourt Square in Dublin told Costelloe that he examined two laptops retrieved from the apartment where Colomines died.

The first, a Lenovo laptop, was registered to a “Mr Gehlen”. At 12.13pm on the day Colomines died, the Lenovo laptop was used to search for “Anne Colomines Tinder”.

It was also used to visit a web-page titled “Stalking your friends on Facebook Messenger” and another titled, “Check if your partner is cheating”.

At 9.32pm that evening, about two hours before Colomines died, the laptop was used to visit the Facebook Messenger profiles of Colomines and that of her French boyfriend.

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Also at 9.32 Google Translate was used to translate: “I hope make myself clear. Someone can get hurt and don’t need to be her. Stay away”, and, “What do you say in this situation? We can make this the easy way or the wrong. Unfriend her would be the solution.”

Det Dunne said the same laptop was used to visit the email address, renatogehlen@yahoo.com at 9.35pm, 10.06pm and 10.07pm the same evening. 

The second laptop was a Hewlett Packard and was registered to “Anne”.

The detective found a Skype account on the laptop which was registered to “Anne Colomines”. On 16 October 2017, a user profile titled Admin was created on the laptop at 2am and deleted at 4.25am the same morning.

During that time the Admin profile was used to download several different types of spy software that the detective said are used to discover usernames and passwords previously used on a computer.

On the morning of 24 October, between 9am and 11am, some of the spy software that had been downloaded was run on the laptop.

At 10.26am the same morning the laptop was used to log into a gmail account titled, renatogehlen@gmail.com.

Detective Sergeant Ken Hoare told Costelloe that he was among the first senior gardaí at the scene in Dorset Square.

He identified a knife that he said he saw fall out of the chest of Gehlen as the accused was being carried down the stairs of the apartment from the mezzanine or loft bedroom.

When the detective went upstairs, he saw “a substantial amount of blood” on the bedroom floor.

In the bathroom he noticed that the bath was three-quarters full and the water was bloodstained. 

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

About the author:

Eoin Reynolds

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