Paul Thomas Ryan is taken from Lismore Supreme Court and returned to custody.
Paul Thomas Ryan is taken from Lismore Supreme Court and returned to custody.

Large number of stab wounds show 'accused intended to kill'

UPDATE, 3.30pm: THE prosecution has argued Paul Thomas Ryan was not "substantially impaired" when he fatally stabbed his wife, Marie Van Beers, at their Tweed Heads unit in November, 2018.

Crown prosecutor Brendan Campbell has told the Supreme Court in Lismore, during his closing submissions, Mr Ryan's cognitive impairments are not so severe as to warrant a reduction of his charge from murder to manslaughter.

Mr Campbell has told the court the Crown has "proved all of the elements of the offence of murder" and that the "nature and number of the injuries" inflicted upon Ms Van Beers indicate "that the accused intended to kill".

Along with a large number of stab wounds, Mr Campbell told the court of a particular cut to one of Ms Van Beers arms which "appeared to be a targeted deliberate wound to a vulnerable part of the body".

He described the incident as a "savage, brutal, prolonged attack … in the context of a woman living in an abusive relationship".

The court has heard the pair had been together for 37 years, were in the mind of the victim separated, and that Mr Ryan had verbally abused Ms Van Beers for many years.

The court heard that the month before her death, police filed an application for an apprehended violence order against Mr Ryan after an incident in which he burnt his former partner's belongings outside their Tweed Heads home.

At that time, Mr Van Beers told the officers the accused had been physically violent toward her on two prior occasions, but she did not report this for fear of its impact on Mr Ryan and their two adult sons.

Defence barrister Jason Watts has argued Mr Ryan was substantially impaired by cognitive issues and a mood disorder at the time of the homicide.

Mr Watts has further argued these impairments interfered with his client's capacity to control himself and to understand events.

It is on the basis of this partial defence Mr Ryan has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Two psychiatrists who appeared as expert witnesses agreed Mr Ryan had some level of impairment at the time of the stabbing but they did not entirely agree on the substantiality of this impairment.

Mr Campbell has argued this impairment is not enough to reduce the accused's charge to manslaughter, while Mr Watts has argued it is sufficient.

Mr Watts is in the process of giving his final submissions. 


Original story: CLOSING submissions are expected to begin today in the trial of a man charged with the stabbing murder of his former partner.

Tweed Heads man Paul Thomas Ryan, 66, has been facing a judge-only trial in the Supreme Court in Lismore over the alleged murder of his former partner, 63-year-old Marie Van Beers, on November 12, 2018.

Mr Ryan is fighting a charge of murder under the partial defence of abnormality of the mind.

In particular, defence barrister Jason Watts has argued the accused has no memory of the stabbing itself, although it is conceded Mr Ryan fatally stabbed Ms Van Beers.

Mr Watts has also argued his client was impaired in terms of his capacity to understand events and his capacity to control himself at the time of the incident.

Mr Ryan offered to plead guilty to manslaughter ahead of his trial but this was rejected by the prosecution.

The court has heard Ms Van Beers was stabbed in the realm of 35 times in the unit the pair were sharing in Brett St, Tweed Heads.

The prosecution is expected to begin closing submissions this morning.

More to come.

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