A murder victim was struck to the head with a hammer more than 30 times when she was bludgeoned to death, allegedly “for money,” a court heard today.
Coleraine Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, also heard that 61-year-old Ludmila Poletelova had been beaten with such ferocity she sustained multiple skull fractures with “20 skull fragments found” in a blood spattered room of her home at Lodge Court in Limavady.
Giving evidence in a bail application by her alleged killer 45-year-old Svetlana Svedova, Detective Constable Connor revealed that a post mortem examination found there were 70 injuries to the victim but as State Pathologist Dr. Bentley opined that given the nature of the injuries and lacerations that the claw end of a claw hammer had been used in the attack, that would equate to “more than 35 strikes” with that weapon. Latvian national Svedova, with an address at College Court in Limavady but who appeared at court by videolink from Hydebank women’s prison, is charged with murdering Ms Poletelova on a date unknown between April 19 and April 24 this year. Revealing that in the days following the murder that Svedova was able to pay £520 of her £1,000 rent arrears despite the fact that she had no job, no furlough and no benefits, DC Connor told the court “we believe at this moment she was murdered for money.” The court heard that both women had worked in the Classic Bar in Limavady and when Ms Poletelova did not turn up for work, they asked a friend to check on her. DC Connor said the door was “ajar” and when her friend went inside, the body of Ms Poletelova was lying on the floor with a “substantial” amount of blood around her head, adding that forensic examinations found blood smears and spatters on the TV and the walls. With a “large wound to the back of her head” and skull fragments “lying beside her head,” the cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head and the officer said following the bloody discovery, officers conducted enquiries in the local area. The detective said CCTV footage from nearby shops showed the defendant arriving at the victim’s property at 12.12pm and leaving just after 11.30 that night, carrying two bags, one of which she dumped in a bin. The next morning, Svedova paid £520 to the letting agent of her flat with DC Connor revealing that fat from their being animosity between the women, Ms Poletelova had lent £800 to the defendant to help her “set herself up” in her flat and the women had been drinking together prior to the killing. Svedova’s flat was searched and although the suspected murder weapon has not been found, officers seized a coat and a bag, both of which had blood stains. While the coat had the victim’s blood on it, the bag had both Svedova’s blood and the blood of her alleged victim on it and the officer explained that “from CCTV footage, police believe that could be the bag that the defendant was seen walking with from the victim’s home.” Arrested and interviewed 17 times, Svedova agreed that “I was the last one to see her alive....but I didn’t kill her.” DC Connor said police objected to Svedova being freed on bail due to fears that she would flee back to her native Latvia or would interfere with witnesses who had been spoken to by police. District Judge Peter King asked if there was any motivation behind the killing and the officer told him “there appears to be no animosity between them” so with Svedova paying off half of her rent arrears the day after the murder, “we believe at this moment she was murdered for money.” An interpreter had been booked in advance for the bail application as Svedova does not speak any English but none attended court either in person or by videolink, a situation described as “a shambles” by DJ King. Following an application by defence counsel Francis Rafferty, he adjourned the bail application to next Monday.