Man denies girlfriend's murder
POLICE found him in the dead of night, drunk and covered in blood, walking down Alstonville’s Cook Avenue.
“I need triple-0,” Donald Paul Yuke told Senior Constables John Rose and Darrel Connor, who had been driving on patrol around Alstonville when they spotted him.
“Cheryl stabbed herself in the neck with a knife. I need triple-0, so I’m walking to the phone box to ring triple-0.”
But Lorraine Cheryl Bolt was already dead, killed by a single strike with a kitchen knife with a 19cm blade.
Ms Bolt hadn’t stabbed herself. Yuke had pushed the blade in near her right shoulder and into her chest cavity where it sliced into a lung.
It took Yuke more than 18 months to admit that, although he still maintains Ms Bolt’s killing on March 29, 2008, was an accident.
As he went on trial for murder yesterday in the Lismore Supreme Court, Yuke pleaded guilty to manslaughter, but elected to fight the Crown’s charge that he killed Ms Bolt on purpose.
The prosecutor told the court the Crown had to prove Yuke had intended to either kill Ms Bolt or very seriously injure her for the murder charge to stand.
He told the jury that, apart from the fatal wound, Ms Bolt had cuts on her hands and arms consistent with having tried to defend herself from a knife attack.
Defence barrister Chris Bruce told jurors they would hear evidence during the trial that Ms Bolt had shown ‘aggressive behaviour’ towards the accused, as well as Yuke acting aggressively towards her.
Yuke and Ms Bolt had been in a relationship about a year before he killed her and the couple had several public verbal spats on the night of her death, the court was told.
The couple were living at Deegan Drive, Alstonville, directly opposite Geoff Watt Oval, which had been the scene of an unruly party on the afternoon and evening of March 28, 2008.
Yuke and Ms Bolt both had been drinking heavily. An autopsy on Ms Bolt revealed a blood-alcohol concentration of between 0.202 and 0.28 and had spent time with friends over the road at the oval.
As night settled in, neighbours began calling police complaining about noise and claiming someone was doing burnouts in a car on the oval.
When Constable Brian Quinn and Senior Constable Aaron Ryan turned up to investigate the complaints they were greeted by the sight of about 15 youths disappearing into the night as they ran from the approaching police car.
The officers got out to take a look around and found a drunk Yuke slumped on a bench seat beside the oval’s amenities block with several other people.
Const Quinn said Yuke had bloodshot eyes and was not speaking with perfect clarity when he saw him about 10.30pm, but was coherent enough to understand when he was told there had been noise complaints and he would have to leave the oval.
Snr Const Rose got a similar impression five hours later, at 3.30am, when he found Yuke walking in Cook Avenue.
Yuke had been insistent an ambulance be called for Ms Bolt, but Snr Const Rose said when they reached the couple’s Deegan Drive home she was already dead.
The officers had to use their torches to find their way through the house to find Ms Bolt’s body because there were no bulbs in the lightfittings, although the house did have power.
Snr Const Rose said when they found Ms Bolt’s body they told Yuke he would have to leave the room, which was a crime scene.
Instead he knelt by Ms Bolt’s body and laid his head on her knees, saying ‘I’m not leaving’.
Police eventually had to put him in handcuffs to get him out of the house.
The trial continues.