05 Jul 2022

US tourist describes terrifying blood-covered ordeal in Ireland

US tourist describes terrifying blood-covered ordeal in Ireland

US tourist describes terrifying blood-covered ordeal in Ireland

An American tourist has described her encounter with a blood-covered woman at her Dublin accommodation as being "like the movie Carrie". 

"She looked me in the eye and under her breath, what breath she had, said: ‘Help me’,” Debbie Halley told the Central Criminal Court on Thursday.

Another American tourist has described how he and his friend used a chair and a fire extinguisher to fight off a man with a knife as the same woman lay bleeding to death in the corridor of the Dublin apartment complex two years ago.

Valerijs Leitons (25), with an address at St Kevin’s Gardens, Dartry, Dublin 6, is on trial for the murder of Skaidrite Valdgeima – a married woman with whom he was having an affair -- at the Binary Hub on Bonham Street in Dublin 8 on 26 June, 2019.

He is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.

Opening the trial before the Central Criminal Court in Dublin on Thursday, Conor Devally SC, prosecuting, told the jury there was little disagreement between the sides on the facts of the case and mechanics of the killing.

“That act would only go halfway to proving the crime of murder,” he said. “In order to prove the crime there must be the act and the intent,” he told the jurors.

He said the prosecution accepted Mr Leitons was suffering a mental disorder – but that doctors differed as to its extent.

Counsel told them the question they would have to decide in the case was whether that disorder was enough to satisfy the insanity plea, or whether Mr Leitons could be found guilty of manslaughter, but with diminished responsibility.

He said Mr Leitons and his alleged victim – a married woman – had struck up a friendship that became a sexual relationship.

Giving evidence with the aid of an interpreter, Ms Valdgeima’s friend Grita Steine said the couple met at a concert in May 2019, and began seeing each other frequently over the following weeks.

Ms Steine said Mr Leitons was in the back seat of the car when Ms Valdgeima drove her home from the airport on the night of Tuesday 25 June that year. The witness said she understood her friend intended to go on to stay in a hotel room that night with Mr Leitons, which he had booked.

Sean Miller, an American tourist staying at the aparthotel with his friend Tyler Chen, told Mr Devally he was woken after 3am by screaming and went into the hall to investigate.

“I saw a female on the floor covered in blood and then a man sitting next to her with a knife,” he told the court.

“At first I was trying to process what happened because I’d just woken up.”

Miller asked the man – who he described as at least 6’2” in height and “imposing” -- what he was doing.

“We’re playing a game, go back to bed,” he replied.

He could see the woman was injured and bleeding visibly, he said.

“She was asking me to help her.”

They got between the man and the woman.

“I was standing in the doorway to stop him and Tyler tried to push him away with a chair,” he said. All the while they told him they were calling for the police,” Mr Miller said.

“Tyler couldn’t fend the man off with a chair – [his friend] had a go with a fire extinguisher. He sprayed the man in the face with a fire extinguisher. As soon as he sprayed him, he ran.”

Only then did they manage to pull Ms Valdgeima to their corridor, where they tried to give first aid.

“She wanted to lay down. She asked if she was going to die.”

Debbie Halley, another American tourist staying at the same complex, told the court that she saw Ms Valdgeima leaving the room after 3am after being woken by “pounding and kind of a moaning”.

“I knew something was wrong – I went back to the room to say I was going to go get help.”

When she stepped back outside she saw Skaidrite Valdgeima standing in the corridor.

“It was like the movie Carrie – head to toe bloodied. She looked me in the eye and under her breath, what breath she had, said: ‘Help me’.”

After Mr Leitons emerged, she ran to look for help, she said.

The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice Paul Hunt, and a jury of seven men and five women.

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