Woman gets life term for murdering and burning partner


15-February-2012

She was sentenced to life imprisonment in a case heard by judge Mohan Burhan and a jury of nine.

The prosecution was led by state counsel Micheal Mulkerins while attorney Karen Domingue represented the accused.

The 35-year-old woman – Helene Beauchamp – gave differing statements to the police after her arrest in March 2011, admitting she murdered her husband, Jimmy Moustache, 48, and burned his body.

Neighbours at Barbarons became aware of a bad smell emanating from the house of Mr Moustache after March 6, 2011.

After five days, the smell was too disturbing.  Some neighbours saw “pieces of meat”, after fire was set on the pile of rubbish.

One witness said twice he saw the accused carrying coconut leaves from the bush and bringing it to the fire. He said the smell was “like that of burning rubber”.

The smell had continued and five days later, he decided to contact the police, especially since neither he nor his girlfriend had seen Mr Moustache for several days.

Police officers giving evidence said on information that something strange was going on, they went to the house of the accused and Mr Moustache at Barbarons to investigate the bad smell.

They took a spade, dug near the rubbish and encountered a skull. When they confronted the accused with the skull, she said: “That is him, he has always threatened to poison himself”.

Pathologist Marrija Zlatovik who examined the remains of the burnt body said she could not say whether there were chemicals in the body as samples of blood, urine, parts of organs and stomach contents have to be analysed and none were available due to the burning.

After her arrest Beauchamp gave different confessional statements but tried to retract later. All the statements were read out in court.

In the first she alleged that she had strangled Mr Moustache, the father of their four-year-old daughter after he came home and fell asleep on March 3, 2011.  She only started to dispose of the body by burning the following night, she said.

In a different statement, she alleged that she put poison in his tea and later she went to town. As in her previous statement she had said she had then proceeded to burn his body.

Summing up, judge Burhan told the jury that the accused in her defence admitted that she had poisoned and burnt Mr Moustache.

Her lawyer while conceding to these facts, took up the defence of diminished responsibility.
The judge noted that the burden of proving the defence of diminished responsibility lay with the accused.

“The mere fact that poisoning a person and setting fire to his body is not acting normally does not establish diminished responsibility. No doubt, this might not be the normal behaviour of mankind, but that alone does not establish the defence of diminished responsibility,” he said.

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