Man put on classical music and smoked cigarettes after strangling his mother

The woman died at Portavogie
The woman died at Portavogie

A man who strangled his mother in a psychotic episode in the home they shared in Portavogie told police he thought his heart was going to jump out of his chest whilst he was killing her, a court heard yesterday.

Viktors Arustamovs put on classical music, smoked cigarettes, took four Tempazepam and packed a bag afterwards, before calling emergency services and confessing “I think I killed my Mum ... she just stopped breathing.”

The 26-year old, who came to Northern Ireland in 2011, killed his 52-year old mother Lija Arustamovs in the “downtrodden and poorly kept” home they shared on Main Street in the Co Down fishing village in the early hours of December 12, 2015.

He later told police: “I strangled her myself with my own hands, but I did not want to kill her.”

Arustamovs appeared at Belfast Crown Court where he admitted manslaughter. The court heard it was accepted that at the time of the unlawful killing, Arustamovs was suffering from a psychotic episode which “in all likelihood” was precipitated by the use of drugs.

It also emerged during the hearing that whilst strangling his mother as she lay in bed, he took a break but resumed when he heard a voice in his head telling him “if you start, you have to finish”.

Following his arrest, Arustamovs was initially detained at HMP Maghaberry, but was transferred to the Shannon secure mental health facility in south Belfast. He is now due to be taken back to prison.

Outlining the Crown case against Arustamovs ahead of sentencing - which is due to take place next week - Crown prosecutor Ciaran Murphy QC told Mr Justice Treacy that emergency services received a 999 call at around 1.16am on Saturday December 12, 2015.

During the call, Arustamovs said he thought he had killed his mother and said if police came to the house he would explain to them what happened.

Describing the house as “downtrodden”, Mr Murphy said ambulance staff were the first at the scene and were led to a first floor room by Arustamovs. They attended to Ms Arustamovs, who was lying in the bed with blood on both sides of her head.

A post mortem carried out the following day revealed that Ms Arustamovs - described in court as five feet three in height and under nine stone in weight - had been strangled. A toxology report indicated she was moderately drunk when she was killed.

When police arrived a short time later, Arustamovs told them he had strangled his mother and made a gesture suggesting such with his hands. At this initial stage, he also spoke about his mental health.

Arustamovs was arrested and brought to Musgrave Park PSNI station in Belfast, where he made full admissions about strangling his mother.

Mr Murphy revealed that during interviews, Arustamovs claimed that as his mother lay upstairs, he went up with her to watch TV, that he strangled her then afterwards he sat and smoked cigarettes before calling 999.

Arustamovs made a number of other claims during interview. He said that in the year prior to the incident, he had been driven crazy by thoughts and he was under constant pressure and tension.

When asked if he and his mother had argued prior to him killing her, he said they “argued all the time”, and that she when she was drinking she would get on his nerves. He also said that whilst he did take drugs, he didn’t have any on the evening in question as he had no money.

He also told police: “I took her by the throat and my heart starting beating so so fast I thought it was going to jump out of my chest.” In addition, Arustamovs said that when he had finished, a cold sensation went through his hands.

Despite confessing, he repeatedly told police he didn’t mean to kill her and at one stage said “I don’t know what came over me ... I couldn’t even kill a cockroach.” Arustamovs revealed that once he finished, he covered his mother with a blanket, placed her hands on her chest and said ‘forgive me.’ He also said that afterwards, he put on classical music, took four Tempazepam and packed a bag before calling 999.

Prosecutor Ciaran Murphy said Arustamovs was a long-term substance misuser, he had a history of “serious mental illness”, and had also experienced neglect and abuse in his childhood.

Defence barrister Peter Irvine QC branded the situation as “tragic”, and told the court: “From a very early age this young man was the subject of an extremely chaotic lifestyle, from his early childhood and teenage years right up to this present moment in time.”

Setting out Arustamovs’s background, the barrister said that after leaving Latvia, his client worked on the fishing boats in Portavogie until 2015, when his psychotic problems “really started to manifest.”

Prior to the events of December 2015, Arustamovs believed a relationship was developing with a female who worked in a local shop. However, this relationship didn’t materialise and his actions resulted in him having to leave Portavogie for a period due to a restraining order.

This, Mr Irvine said, resulted in him living rough in both Belfast and Dublin for a period.

The defence barrister said the unlawful killing of Ms Arustamovs was not pre-meditated, adding his client had expressed remorse from the outset. Pointing out there was “immediate acceptance by him to what he had done when police arrived,” Mr Irvine said it was his client who called the authorities.

After listening to submissions from both the Crown and defence, Mr Justice Treacy said he wanted to reflect on matters, and said he would pass sentence next Tuesday.