Claiming he was bullied, physically hit with slippers and threatened with knives, a Sydney man has admitted strangling his wife of 44 years in their home.
Engracio Songcuan stands trial in the NSW Supreme Court for allegedly murdering his 69-year-old wife Erlinda in their Woodcroft home on May 2, 2020, months after nationwide COVID-19 lockdowns were imposed.
Speaking to a jury on Monday, crown prosecutor Adrian Robertson said Songcuan had engaged in a "deliberate act of vengeance" against his wife after their relationship deteriorated, and frequent arguments about money and infidelity.
The now 75-year-old, also known as Fred, strangled his wife in their garage.
The retired accountant forged three notes purporting to be from his now deceased wife to be found by their adult daughter Catherine who was still living at home, the jury heard.
"I had no choice but to silence her. A little bit of peace and a little bit of freedom ... I cannot really stand it anymore," he told police when he was arrested on the day of the killing.
Songcuan has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter, saying his actions were like a "dog biting back".
Mr Robertson said the couple's relationship worsened from early 2018 with arguments ramping up until the date of the killing, and the pair opting to sleep in separate bedrooms. However, in that time the couple still had happy times travelling together overseas, the barrister added.
In February 2020, the Songcuans signed divorce papers but never formally lodged them.
Two days before the killing, Catherine claims she awoke to her parents arguing in the kitchen.
Mrs Songcuan had found a birthday card addressed to Fred in the garage and was screaming while holding a kitchen knife and hitting him with her slippers, demanding to see her husband's phone and messages, the jury heard.
Accusing her husband of having an affair, Mrs Songcuan was also concerned about money, with around $17,000 allegedly missing from their Westpac bank accounts.
Songcuan has always denied he had an affair. However, after his wife found a g-string at their home, he admitted going to a massage parlour six years earlier after having an "urge for sex".
Talking to police, he said someone had "poisoned her mind" leading to his wife being suspicious of his claimed infidelity.
"He said, 'I'm afraid that she might kill me because she's keeping knives in all of our rooms'," Mr Robertson told the jury.
On May 2, 2020, he claims his wife burst into his room while he was sleeping, threw a television remote at him, and hit him with a 50cm-long object.
"I ran downstairs and went to the garage and she followed me there still hitting me and shouting so I had no choice but to silence her," he told police.
Placing one hand over her mouth, he squeezed her throat for 15 to 20 minutes until she stopped breathing.
He then manipulated the crime scene to make it seem like she had hanged herself and left the body for his daughter to find, the jury heard.
A week or two after her mother's death, Catherine found the divorce papers and Westpac bank statements torn up in their recycling bin.
Mr Robertson urged the jury to find that the strangling was a voluntary, deliberate act done with the intent to kill or inflict grievous bodily harm.
The barrister rejected any arguments that Songcuan had acted in self-defence or that he had lost control as a result of extreme provocation.
"This was about the deceased nagging about a suspected affair and a few incidents of striking him with benign items such as slippers," he said.
The trial continues on Tuesday.
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