Mansfield murder trial hears of ‘violent relationship’

CRIME SCENE: The flats on Ladybrook Place where Emiel Blankert was allegedly assaulted by Michelle Swift.
CRIME SCENE: The flats on Ladybrook Place where Emiel Blankert was allegedly assaulted by Michelle Swift.

A Mansfield woman who denies murdering her partner was embroiled in a relationship with him that was ‘manifested in violence’, a court has been told.

Michelle Swift (48), is accused of inflicting the perforated bowel on her long-standing partner Emiel Blankert (48) at the Ladybrook Place flat they shared that ultimately led to his death in December of last year.

He was admitted to King’s Mill Hospital and died a few days later because of severe haemorrhaging.

On the first day of her trial at Nottingham Crown Court this week, opening the case for the crown, Timothy Spencer QC, told the jury that he believes Miss Swift delivered the ‘significant blunt force injury to his abdomen’ using either ‘some sort of blunt weapon or delivering one or more kicks or stamps’.

The jury was told of the volatile nature of their 17-year relationship, with claims that violence was regularly instigated by both when they clashed.

The pair had lived in the flat above a the parade of shops on Ladybrook Estate for three years, but both were gripped by alcoholism and heroin addiction, although they were on a methadone programme to combat the drugs.

But Mr Spencer listed a catalogue of violent incidents over the years taken from interviews with friends, neighbours and from police reports.

In the earlier days of the relationship, it was alleged that Mr Blankert was the dominant physical force, but in recent years, as the drink and drugs took their toll and he became physically weaker, she began to get the upper hand and the ‘tables turned’, according Mr Spencer.

There were several reported incidents in which knives and even a cricket bat were used to assault each other. Each would often be seen with cuts or bruises, but would dismiss them as accidents to the outside world, only confessing to their closest friends.

Mr Spencer said it was very much a ‘love-hate’ relationship adding: “There was a pact between them to not reveal to the outside world the reality of how they came to be injured.

“Neither would co-operate with police or make a formal complaint.

“They were in the grip of both drink and drugs and bound by their circumstances.

“The relationship was both destructive or damaging but neither could escape the other. It began to manifest itself in violence.”

On the day that the fatal wounds were inflicted on Mr Blankert, 9th December, CCTV from around the precinct where the couple lived was shown to the jury, with footage showing Mr Blankert once in the morning, then again mid-afternoon, by which time he was clearly injured with swelling to his face.

Mr Spencer argues that this injury was inflicted the same time as he received the severe blow to the stomach.

He also claims they must have been inflicted while in his flat, otherwise he would have been picked up on camera had he left his home at any other point.

Further footage showed to the jury showed Miss Swift leaving and returning to the flat several times that day to buy booze from the convenience store.

The court was told how the pair had got into an argument in their flat the previous night, witnessed by one of Miss Swift’s friends with whom she had been drinking.

Mr Blankert had asked for his bank card, but Miss Swift had refused, saying he would only go to the pub with it.

When the argument escalated, she allegedly punched Mr Blankert in the face and kicked him in the leg, making him recoil. He allegedly began to cry.

Mr Spencer added: “He was completely cowed by this defendant and was now sobbing when she became violent towards him.

“Things had reached a new low. He made no attempt to defend himself and his only reaction was to cry.

“Michelle Swift was not only prepared to use her fists but her foot or feet.

“It was this that ultimately led to his death.”

The trial continues.