Judge to rule on murder case

WITH more than 30 stab wounds to Linda Tregerthan’s body and knife impact marks left in the timber floor of her Byron Bay house, the Supreme Court will hand down a decision tomorrow on whether Vita Tantra is her killer.

Tantra, 52, a former resident of Byron Bay and Mt Burrell, faced a judge-alone trial in Lismore before Supreme Court Justice Robert Allan Hulme, accused of murdering Ms Tregerthan, 43, on August 30, 2004, at the naturopath’s rented house in Shirley Lane.

The East German-born Tantra, in custody since 2007, revealed last Friday he had punched Ms Tregerthan after confronting her over what he described as ‘identity theft’, but insisted he did not kill her or use a knife.

The Crown yesterday said Tantra’s DNA was found in a smear mark on a pillowcase mixed with Ms Tregerthan’s DNA. It said it was likely to be blood left there after he stood up and touched it following a ‘frenzied attack’ using a knife on Ms Tregerthan as she lay injured on the floor. Marks left on the floorboards indicated a knife had been used ‘in a downward motion’.

The Crown said Tantra cut himself during the attack and his DNA found under his victim’s fingernails occurred during the struggle.

“The floorboards were taken up. The marks make it clear the use of the knife was by short, fairly ferocious motions,” the Crown said.

Public defender and counsel Chris Bruce said if Justice Hulme found against his client there was the defence of mental illness. Although it was difficult to make a definitive diagnosis, Tanta likely suffered a psychosis with paranoid delusions and beliefs.

Mr Bruce said Tantra (in a psychologist’s report) stated Ms Tregerthan was a stalker and an intimidator ‘who pretended to be a man by her behaviour, stalking me, she behaved like me’.

Mr Bruce said there had been almost the same delusional beliefs in an assault with sexual connotations a week after the murder when Tantra assaulted a person at Centrelink in Byron Bay, believing the person by using some power could victimise him by causing sexual harassment.

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