The demise of Mansfield woman Michelle Swift did not turn her into a killer, defence counsel insisted at Nottingham Crown Court.
Michael Auty, QC told the trial jury that Swift (49) “was once a bright and attractive woman with her whole life and her whole world ahead of her”.
“After the death of her brother and then her child, she fell prey to heroin’s cruel and unyielding grip,” he said.
Now she was accused of the murder of her long-time boyfriend, Emiel Blankert (48), at their home in Ladybrook Place, Mansfield, on Monday 9th December 2013.
“Whether you warm to her matters not,” continued Mr Auty. “She is what she is.
“But if the prosecution are right, then she knew how badly hurt Mr Blankert was and that she was responsible.
“And also she was a blessed fool for letting a policeman into her home that day, while the policeman himself was a fool too because he left, thinking Mr Blankert was not in danger and was being looked after.
“And most tellingly of all, she knew that if it was her who had stamped on Mr Blankert’s stomach, why would she allow him to be taken away without being in control of what he was going to say in hospital?
“She knew she had not killed him. He was the man she had cared for and nursed for 17 years.”
Mr Auty said the crucial question for the jury was: who did kill Mr Blankert.
“We can’t prove who killed him,” he said. “Michelle Swift had the opportunity, but that is as much as we can concede.”
He said the most likely explanation was that he had been “beaten up by some lads down town”, possibly because of his Dutch accent.
This was the story he had told to several people he met when he visited The Ladybrook pub later that afternoon
The prosecution claim Mr Blankert was attacked by Swift in their flat before going out without realising how serious his injuries were. He went to a nearby pharmacy, withdrew some money from a cashpoint and then went on to the pub.
However, Mr Auty pointed out that the pharmacist described Mr Blankert as “lucid and in control”. He was also seen to be walking normally.
Yet, witnesses who saw him later, before he went to the pub, described him as in a daze, leaning against railings or fencing, looking bad and walking slowly.
This was all in an area that “is a web of walkways and alleyways” which were to be avoided.
“He went from being lucid at the pharmacy to being out of it,” said Mr Auty.
“The prosecution say the default position of Mr Blankert, as part of his pact with Michelle Swift, was to explain his injuries by saying he had fallen over again.
“And usually, in the pub, he was a man who sat down in the corner, downing his doubles of Southern Comfort or Malibu. Hardly the life and soul of the party.
“But on this afternoon, he interacted with a number of people, and freely told them he had been set upon.”
Mr Auty also pointed out that the police found no evidence of a disturbance at the flat, and labelled one or two witnesses as “inconsistent and unreliable”.
Furthermore, when a 999 call was made later for an ambulance to take Mr Blankert to hospital, she was convinced he was having problems with his liver.
“The call was not a confession, but a woman caring about the man she loved and desperate about his condition,” said Mr Auty.
The trial continues