UPDATE: 1.30PM A 22-year-old French woman has gone on trial for the horrific murder of a 79-year-old in South Perth, with the court today told how the victim’s then-wife had discovered her husband’s mutilated body in his home.
Valentina Strabach has admitted killing accomplished father-of-four Murray Quartermaine on January 29 last year but claims she is not guilty on the basis of insanity.
The Supreme Court judge-alone trial was today read a statement from Mr Quartermaine’s then second wife, 45-year-old Yetunde Quartermaine, about how she had become concerned when he failed to attend their 12-year-old daughter’s horse-riding lesson the next day.
She had gone to his home - where he lived alone – and she saw blood smeared on walls in cross shapes, and glimpsed his badly injured body lying on a bedroom floor.
“I felt sick,” she said in her statement. “I didn’t even get to the point of looking at his face.”
The court has heard Ms Strabach - a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic - attacked Mr Quartermaine with scissors, leaving him with 211 stab sharp-force wounds, and had mutilated his body, including his genitals.
Relatives of the accused woman gave statements to police describing how the then-20-year-old, who has both French and Australia citizenship but spent much of her life in France and was “finding herself” on holiday in Perth, had behaved strangely in the days leading up to the killing.
The court has heard Ms Strabach returned the next day wearing men’s clothing, sporting a bad body odour and was intent on eating a mango that she had bought from a shop on her way home, with the shop owner giving evidence that she had behaved oddly.
She had told a relative” “I killed a man and I am going to jail for four years”.
Prosecutor Linda Petrusa said in an opening address that the accused woman later claimed she had to kill Mr Quartermain because she believed he was a paedophile.
No other allegation or evidence supporting the paedophilia claim has been produced.
The accused woman and her victim met at a bus stop where he had offered assistance, the court heard, with Mr Quartermaine described by his former wife as a cheerful man who spoke numerous languages including French.
Ms Strabach was joined by a welfare worker in the dock today and has asked to be excused when her record of interview with police, which was recorded days after the killing, is played to the court.
Defence lawyer Seamus Rafferty has outlined that his client was legally insane because she had been unable to control her actions or to know that she ought not carry them out at the time.
The defence must prove the assertion on the balance of probabilities.
After the accused was excused, the trial was shown Ms Strabach’s police record of interview, which was recorded within days of the killing.
During the interview the accused woman assures detectives she will tell them “everything”.
She also says in the interview she had accepted a lift with Mr Quartermaine and that during conversation he had said he was married and asked whether she believed people had a right to love people of any age.
Ms Strabach said to police that she thought her victim was a paedophile and had later decided to kill him.
Back at Mr Quartermaine’s home she had touched him but did not have sex with him, she said, before stabbing him on his bed with a pair of scissors.
She told police "it was a big fight... it was not easy".
The trial continues.