The Malta Independent 22 July 2019, Monday

Shannon Mak: Dutchwoman died after violent struggle, was severely beaten

Friday, 12 July 2019, 16:16 Last update: about 10 days ago

Court experts have testified that the murder of Shannon Mak in Sta Venera came at the end of a violent struggle during which she was severely beaten.

Scientific perspectives on the August 2018 murder in Triq il-Mastrudaxxi were given by a number of court experts testifying in the murder proceedings against Jelle Rijpma, the 23-year old former colleague and boyfriend of Mak, whose body was found in the road with her throat slashed.

Medico-legal expert Dr Mario Scerri, who examined the body of the victim after a neighbor made the gruesome discovery at around 6am, testified that death must have occurred at around 2.00am.

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Dr. Scerri explained that the time of death was established from indications of rigor mortis (stiffening of the body) and hypostasis (pooling of blood in the lower parts of the body).

The victim had suffered bruising to her face and other parts of the body, compatible with a beating. She died after being wounded in the neck, he said.

"Could the injuries have been indicative of self-harm?" asked lawyer Stefano Filletti, appearing parte civile for the Mak family.

"No, no, no!" replied Dr. Scerri. "The injuries were inflicted by a blunt instrument, but the fatal injury was inflicted by a sharp instrument," he said. "It was a knife, not biggish."

Filletti asked about the bruises and whether they indicated a struggle.

"All involved some degree of force," Dr. Scerri replied. "It was pushing, pulling, kicking, possibly even hitting against a wall," he said.

On the afternoon after the murder the forensic specialist had also examined murder suspect Jelle Rijpma at Police HQ, where he was being detained under arrest.

Blood samples taken at the time did not seem to indicate the presence of alcohol or drugs during the commission of the offence, he said.

Forensic pathologists Marie Therese Camilleri and Salfraz Ali, who performed the autopsy on the victim, also testified.

They told the court that Mak had died of hypovolemic shock caused by a stab wound to the left side of the neck, probably inflicted with a knife.

Dr Daniel Vella, court-appointed expert, testified as to how he had been called to the crime scene on August 3, 2018, arriving there after Mak's body had been taken away.

A number of samples lifted from the crime scene indicated the presence of olive oil, he said, adding that the oil was also found on the road. The expert told the court how he had been given some pieces of broken green glass, together with the base of a bottle.

One shard seemed to be stained red and so was passed on for DNA testing, Vella said.

The case continues.

The Court is presided by Magistrate Simone Grech.                          

Inspectors Robert Vella and Kurt Zahra prosecuted.

Lawyer Leontine Calleja was defence counsel.


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