A Scottish manual worker killed his partner before raping and killing her teenage daughter in a ‘barbaric’ double murder-suicide, an inquest in Northern Ireland has heard.
The bodies of the mother and daughter were discovered in an apartment in Newry on March 7, 2019, along with Russell Steele by police after they had all been reported missing.
Coroner Joe McCrisken found Giselle Marimon-Herrera, 37, died from asphyxiation and suffocation and 15-year-old Allison Marimon-Herrera died due to manual strangulation and suffocation.
Their chihuahua dog was also found dead. Mr McCrisken in County Armagh described the deaths of the mother and daughter as “one of the most difficult” inquests he has ever presided over.
He said he could not be certain that Ms Marimon-Herrera had been sexually assaulted, but that there is evidence her daughter had been raped.
Steele was found to have died by hanging, and he had intended to die, the inquest heard. Torn women’s underwear was found in his pocket.
Steele’s family had been kept informed of the proceedings but chose not to attend, the hearing was told.
At the opening of proceedings on Thursday morning, Mr McCrisken said he was holding separate inquests into the deaths of Ms Marimon-Herrera and her daughter, and Steele.
He heard evidence about events in the run up to the deaths.
A statement from Ms Marimon-Herrera’s sister Paola was read to the inquest.
She described how her sister had arrived in Northern Ireland in 2016 after separating from her Portuguese husband, and was followed by her daughter in 2017.
She also told the inquest that her sister had felt Steele was “controlling” and she had wanted to end the relationship.
PSNI Investigating Officer Victoria Holmes said text messages exchanged between Steele and Ms Marimon-Herrera revealed a recent argument which included an attempt by her to end the relationship.
Statements from two Polish men, Szymon Kosecki and Pawel Bronk, who had been work colleagues of Steele, were read to court.
They are believed to be the last to have seen Ms Marimon-Herrera and her daughter alive after meeting up with the mother and Steele for a night out on Saturday March 2 at Brass Monkeys in Newry.
They returned to the Glin Ree Court apartment where they saw Miss Marimon-Herrera with her pet dog.
They stayed for around an hour for drinks, leaving at around 3am.
Ward Devlin, an ex-partner of Ms Marimon-Herrera, gave evidence to the inquest about how he raised the alarm after she failed to respond to messages for several days.
Neighbour Gerard Doran is believed to be the last person to have seen Steele alive.
The family said they were devastated by the deaths, adding in a statement: “We are a very private family who have been catapulted into the public domain as a result of this murder.”
They thanked the public and others who organised donations, which the family used to travel from France and Colombia to Northern Ireland, where they were able to see where the victims had lived and to meet pupils and teachers at Allison’s school.
The fund also assisted in paying for the cremation in Belfast and for family members to travel to Portugal, where their ashes have been laid to rest.
The statement concluded: “The family appeal to anyone who is at risk of domestic violence to seek help.”
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