A man who claims he was insane at the time he killed his wife told police she appeared to him as if she were “a ghost” and “like a devil” before he attacked her with a knife at their Balga home, WA’s Supreme Court has been told.
- The man’s wife was stabbed repeatedly and had 37 defensive injuries
- He had been diagnosed with mental health problems in the years before
- The court heard he had not been taking his prescribed medication
Upendra Pathmasri Ihalahewa, 46, is on trial accused of murdering 44-year-old Darshika Nilmini Kudaligama Withana in Perth on the morning of Sunday February 3 last year.
Mr Ihalahewa admits he inflicted the fatal wounds, but is arguing he should not be held criminally responsible for his wife’s death because he was “of unsound mind” at the time.
The court was told Ms Withana was stabbed multiple times, including one in which her jugular vein was severed.
She also had 37 “defensive” injuries to her hands and fingers.
Husband failed to take medication: prosecutors
In an opening statement to the court, state prosecutor Robert Owen said Ms Withana came to Perth from Sri Lanka in 2017, after what Mr lhalahewa told neighbours was an “arranged” marriage.
The neighbours also said in the years before the marriage, Mr Ihalahewa had told them he was homosexual.
Mr Owen told the court that in the lead up to the alleged murder, Mr Ihalahewa had used an online dating app “to meet random men for casual sex”.
Witnesses also described Ms Withana as seeming “consistently miserable”.
Mr Owen said court records showed Mr Ihalahewa was first hospitalised with mental health problems in 2014 after “an incident” at the Frankland psychiatric centre, where he was on a placement as part of his enrolled nursing studies.
He said the incident had left Mr Ihalahewa feeling “embarrassed and uncomfortable” and he reported suffering auditory hallucinations, “persecutory delusions” and was repeatedly stating that he was not gay.
The court heard he was diagnosed with “depression with psychotic features” and when he was taken to see his family in Sri Lanka, he was prescribed medication, which the court heard he was not taking in the lead up to his wife’s death.
He also was not seeking any treatment from medical professionals in Perth.
Neighbours heard yelling end abruptly
The court heard that after the killing, Mr Ihalahewa told detectives when he would look at his wife he would see “different faces”, and claimed she had said to him, “If you come to Sri Lanka, I’ll get my friends to kill you”.
He also described feeling like he was “living in a cemetery”, and the court heard when his wife showed Mr Ihalahewa’s brother the room he was living in, it appeared he was sleeping on the floor and urinating into a bucket.
Mr Ihalahewa said before he attacked his wife, she had tried to give him a head massage, but he got a knife and stabbed her when he saw “a ghost coming to take him” and “a devil coming to me”.
At the time, neighbours reported hearing a woman yelling for about five minutes before the noise ended abruptly, prompting one to send a message to a friend saying “OMG, the woman next door just sounded like she was getting murdered and now it’s deathly silent”.
The judge-alone trial is expected to run for three days, with most of the evidence to come from psychiatrists.