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Man found guilty of murdering wife

A man who stabbed his wife 12 times in a brutal attack in front of their six-year old daughter was yesterday found guilty of murder.

Twelve jurors - seven women, five men - took just three hours at the end of a week-long Supreme Court trial to unanimously convict Real Lishman, 43, of the murder of his 32-year old wife, Carolina Elizabeth Lishman.

Lishman’s eyes welled up as the verdict was read out but the defendant, who stood in the dock flanked by two prison officers, otherwise expressed no emotion.

He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, the court was told. However a pre-sentence report was requested to determine the minimum jail term he will have to serve before being eligible for parole.

The case was adjourned and Lishman will be sentenced on Monday April 15.

Mrs Lishman died after she sustained 12 stab wounds in a violent incident in the couple’s former matrimonial home in Sir William Jackson Grove, also known as Gib V, in November 2017.

During the incident the defendant also sustained serious life-threatening injuries and needed emergency surgery.

Lishman told police officers that she attacked him first and he was acting out of self-defence.

But having heard all the evidence, the jury in the trial rejected that defence.

Earlier yesterday morning, Chief Justice Anthony Dudley summarised the facts of the case before sending the jurors out to deliberate on their verdict.

“This case may have led you to feel sympathy for the deceased,” Mr Justice Dudley said.

“But you must not let your feelings affect your decision.”

Lishman was described as a man of previous good character and jurors were told they must not allow the fact that he chose not to give evidence to influence them, because it is up to the prosecution to prove the case.

Mr Justice Dudley outlined the three main elements that fall under the definition of murder according to the law.

The first is that Mrs Lishman was killed by the defendant, which was an agreed fact.

The second was whether he was acting out of self-defence and the third was if there was an intention to kill her or cause serious harm.

Mr Justice Dudley told the jury to consider whether Lishman was acting in lawful self-defence when “he believed he was going to be under attack”, or whether the force that was used “was reasonable in the heat of the moment”.

With regards to intention, the Chief Justice said: “At the time, the defendant repeatedly stabbed Carolina Lishman.”

“Intention does not have to be decided in advance.”

“Did he intend to cause death or serious harm even though he did not desire end result?”

Jurors were asked to consider how much force was used to cause the fatal wounds and what Lishman’s intentions were when he stabbed his wife.

During the trial, jurors heard the couple had separated after Mrs Lishman had travelled for cosmetic surgery.

She returned to Gibraltar and had told the defendant she was leaving him and had moved back to her parents’ house.

Lishman remained in the couple’s home with their six-year old daughter and had also resigned from his job.

On the day of the incident, he went to see his lawyer who suggested his wife may have been having an affair.

The court heard Mrs Lishman had sent text messages to the defendant that said: “You scare me”, and “I don’t even want to go back to my house alone”.

Lishman sent a text message to her and wrote: “I have always been faithful to you and you know that is the truth.”

“If I cannot be with you in this lifetime, maybe the next.”

“I will just devote my life to my baby girl.”

The defence said this message was not a threat, but Chief Inspector Roy Perez of the Royal Gibraltar Police told the court they were “open to interpretation”.

In the evening, Mrs Lishman came by to collect the child and an argument ensued between the two.

The first anyone knew of the incident was when the couple’s six-year old daughter alerted neighbours, who then called the police.

Mr Lishman was found by officers lying face-down on the floor and Mrs Lishman was found in a foetal position on the kitchen floor, holding a knife in her hand and with her mobile phone beside her.

Mr Lishman’s defence lawyer Christopher Finch said this incident “arose out of deceit” because Mrs Lishman was trying to hide text messages sent by her new partner.

Mr Finch previously told jurors the “only truth” was the evidence from the child, who repeatedly told her neighbour: “Mummy stabbed Daddy, Daddy stabbed Mummy.”

“Mummy on the floor playing dead.”

“Daddy stabbed himself.”

“Both on the floor playing dead.”

Forensic scientist Andrew Davidson and the defence’s forensic expert both agreed the last person to be injured with the knife used in the attack was Mr Lishman.

Evidence from the forensic pathologist Dr Brett Lockyer said it was possible Mrs Lishman could have stabbed Mr Lishman. However, he said the defendant’s wounds were consistent with those that are self-inflicted.

Mrs Lishman died from a wound caused by “extreme force” which went through her breast bone and through her heart.

The other wounds to her shoulder, back, arms and on her side were “survivable”, Dr Lockyer said.

Mrs Lishman was described as five feet four inches tall and weighed 70 kilos at the time of her death. On the other hand, Mr Lishman stands in at six feet tall.

Jurors were given a group photo with the couple to be able to compare the difference between the two.

After the guilty verdict was delivered, Mr Justice Dudley expressed the court’s condolences to Mrs Lishman’s family, adding they had “shown the greatest dignity throughout the trial”.

He also commended Mr Perez and his team at the RGP for their “thorough investigation”.

Mr Justice Dudley thanked the jurors and exempted them from jury service for 10 years.

He said it was not “an easy trial”, adding that they were exposed to images that were “not pleasant”.

The jury later sent the presiding judge a note requesting a support group or counselling service, and he asked the court services to liaise with social services to ensure it was provided.

Christian Rocca, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and Carl Ramagge appeared for the Crown.

Leigh Debono appeared alongside Mr Finch for the defence.

Outside the courtroom, Mr Perez read a statement from the RGP.

He said: “First and foremost, I would like to say this has been a very difficult case for the Murray family and our thoughts are with them at this time.”

“One only hopes this verdict will bring some closure to the ordeal and that Carolina can now rest in peace.”

“I must admit that this past week has been extremely testing in trying to rebut the defence case.”

“This case involved a brutal attack where the victim was stabbed 12 times with fatal wounds into her chest and through the heart.”

“I am grateful the evidence presented has been tested on both sides of the jury, leading them to conclude in favour of the prosecution case.”

RGP Commissioner Ian McGrail also recognised the efforts of his officers on Twitter.

He said: “Trial concluded – defendant found guilty unanimously by jury of 12 of murdering his wife. Traumatic experience for family of the victim & our own officers who did all they could to save life.

Judge recognising their efforts & that of the investigating team. #DomesticViolence-NO!”

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