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Gardaí at the scene in Kildysart where they are investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of a married couple. Photograph by John Kelly.

Double inquest hears of domestic tragedy

“DOMESTIC dispute – she stabbed me, I stabbed her”, were among the last words spoken by a man who died on the same evening as his wife in Kildysart, shortly before last Christmas.
This was outlined at an inquest in Ennis into the deaths of South African couple, Cornelius and Angelique Billing.
The inquest also heard that the couple’s two small children were hysterical in the aftermath of the stabbings and one of them was on Kildysart’s Main Street calling for help, as her mother was mortally wounded nearby.
The jury heard evidence from gardaí, ambulance and fire service personnel, as well as Deputy State Pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis.
Garda John Cahill said that on December 17 of last year he began work at noon and at around 6.25pm, he got a call to go to a fire at a hardware store in Kildysart.
While on the Main Street, he saw a woman staggering in the direction of AIB. She was holding the left side of her neck with her right hand and bleeding profusely.
She collapsed on the footpath and a young girl who was present “began screaming and crying”, he said.
The child went into the laneway by the apartment at 9 Main Street and he pursued her. He then found the door on the ground floor leading to the Billings’ apartment, while the stairs up to the apartment and the walls were “covered in blood”.
Halfway up the steps he saw two young girls and Mr Billing facing them, just outside the bathroom. He was holding a long kitchen knife in his right hand.
Garda Cahill said his face was pale and he described him as “staring into space”. He complied with a direction to drop the knife.
At the time, his two daughters were said to have been hysterical.
Mr Billing had a large gash to his neck and shortly afterwards, he “suddenly collapsed to the floor”.
The guard said he applied pressure to the wound with a small teddy bear, which was the only item available, and he then realised how serious the cut was.
Mr Billing said, “Help me – can’t breathe”. Asked what happened, he replied, “Domestic dispute – she stabbed me, I stabbed her”.
Kieran Burke of Ennis Fire Station was on the scene on the evening to deal with the nearby fire. In his evidence, he said that on the street he saw a person collapse and there was a child beside them.
When Ms Billing was asked if she was ok, she was said to be “completely unresponsive”. However, she did respond to light.
While CPR was being performed on her, he saw that there was a laceration above her collarbone. Blood began to squirt from a wound and from her mouth.
She was pronounced dead by a doctor a short time afterwards.
Gerard O’Halloran of the fire service said that on the street he had heard a child calling, “Help, help, help my Mom”.
In the Billings apartment, he said there was a small amount of water in the bath, as if someone had been bathing children.
Dr Curtis gave evidence of the findings of the post-mortem examinations.
Regarding Ms Billing, he said there had been approximately 12 penetrative and 10 incise wounds, with some blunt-force trauma, which may have been the result of a scuffle.
On the palm of her right hand, there were two small wounds that he said were probably defensive.
There was a low level of anti-histamine found in blood and urine tests but no alcohol. The cause of death was determined to be stab wounds to the neck and chest.
Relatives of Ms Billing said that she had spoken about abortion and they asked if she had been pregnant but Dr Curtis said there had been no evidence of pregnancy.
Regarding Mr Billing, his death was said to have been the result of a deep incise wound to the left side of his neck.
This had wounded his left jugular vein. He also had defensive-type injuries on his right hand and fingers.
While there was fatty degeneration of his liver, this played no role in his death.
The jury of three men and three women returned a verdict that Mr Billing died as a result of deep incise wounds to the neck, with wounding to the left jugular vein.
They also found that Ms Billing died as a result of stab wounds to the neck and chest, as per the medical evidence.

By Owen Ryan

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