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Gaskell on trial for the murder of his Fijian wife

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Update: 1:21PM A BRISBANE grandmother who was allegedly bludgeoned to death by her hammer-wielding former husband had recently moved in with a new partner, a court heard.

Lawrence Alfred Gaskell, 72, is on trial accused of murdering his 62-year-old former wife, Katarina Gaskell, during a violent argument at their former home in Brisbane.

The Brisbane Supreme Court heard the Fijian grandmother was admitted to hospital on October 17, 2011, in a critical condition after suffering more than five hammer blows to her head.

She died the following day.

Gaskell told police he struck his former wife in self-defence after she came at him with a knife at the Zillmere house in Brisbanes north.

He has pleaded not guilty to murder.

On Tuesday, a courtroom filled with relatives heard the couples 35-year marriage ended in divorce about 2009 and Mrs Gaskell moved into a house they owned next door.

The mother-of-four was rapt to begin a new relationship, according to evidence by her son John Gaskell, but was locked in a legal dispute with her ex-husband over the property in which she lived.

The court heard that while she was overseas in 2011, Gaskell removed his ex-wifes belongings from the house.

When she returned in late August 2011, Mrs Gaskell moved in with her new partner, William Eakin.

Mr Eakin testified that the mother of three went to the Zillmere property seven weeks later to collect some dresses but never returned.

He received a call from Mrs Gaskell's brother-in-law that afternoon saying she had been seriously injured, and at the hospital surgeons warned him there was little hope.

"It was pretty much stated at the very beginning it was looking very bad, but (they) said they'd do what they could," Mr Eakin told the court.

"(The next evening) it was indicated to us that there was absolutely no chance ... (and her) life support would be switched off at 8pm." 

Mrs Gaskell died at 8.20pm in front of Mr Eakin and her children.

The trial continues.

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