A Dutch pensioner has been jailed for 15 years after he was convicted of cold-bloodedly murdering his Irish wife at their home in the Netherlands.
Passing sentence on Arnold Viguurs, aged 63, yesterday, the three-judge court in the city of s’Hertogenbosch (Den Bosch) described the violent death last November of Martina O’Brien Viguurs, bludgeoned with a hammer and then strangled by her husband as “a shocking act of violence”.
The punishment is very severe by Dutch standards as the accused had no previous convictions. In their judgment, the court said a severe punishment was necessary because of “the immense pain, suffering, and loss her death had caused to her eight children and 11 grandchildren”.
A kind, warm-hearted woman devoted to her family and looking forward to moving back to Ireland to be near them had died needlessly at the hands of a callous coward of a man whose only way out of telling her the truth about their severe financial problems was to cold-bloodedly plot and carry out her murder, the court ruled.
Just hours before she believed they would catch a flight to Ireland to visit family and view houses for sale as they had recently sold their Dutch home, Martina, aged 64, a former nurse and air hostess, already lay dead on the living room floor.
Viguurs, a former estate agent, told his trial two weeks ago that he killed her because he was desperate and afraid to admit they could not travel to Ireland as there was no money to pay for the tickets nor enough to buy a new home there.
He had lived a lie for years, telling his wife, a native of Rathkeale, Co Limerick, they would have enough money to retire comfortably and move back to Ireland after selling their home in Den Bosch, a small city 100km south of Amsterdam.
Viguurs finally told Martina the truth — that debts had eaten up their entire savings from his half of a local real estate business he sold in 2013 — and there was nothing left for the air tickets or a house in Ireland, before killing her.
He claimed it was a spur-of-the-moment action but, during his interrogation, Viguurs admitted that he had thought about ways of killing her the previous night as an escape from coming clean about their financial meltdown. When he told her he planned to end his own life in 2014 because he was so desperate about money, she begged him not to do so, saying she could not live without him.
The killer wrote a suicide letter two days earlier. It said: “Tina I have always loved you I am sorry I have made such a mess of our life. I hope you can forgive me. I can’t leave you behind in the trouble I’ve caused. I hope you find peace in heaven.”
“I realised that if I was to kill myself I had to take her with me” Viguurs told the court.
After killing Martina he went upstairs but was unable to commit suicide. Instead, he called the emergency services.
Forensic evidence showed Martina suffered injuries to her hands and elbows consistent with an attempt to defend herself. But it was strangulation, and not the hammer blows, that caused her death on November 9 of last year.
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