herald

Sunday 23 July 2017

Toddler 'may have witnessed' death of young mother Rita

Mother-of-one Rita Apine (29)
Mother-of-one Rita Apine (29)

A toddler may have witnessed the violent death of a woman who was found with fatal injuries at the bottom of the stairs at her home.

Gardai were continuing to question a 30-year-old man last night in relation to the murder of Rita Apine (29).

She was found at a property in Freshford, Co Kilkenny, shortly before 1pm on Sunday.

Sources said Ms Apine, a Latvian national, was "in fear of this man", and gardai have been trying to ascertain whether she had previously suffered violence.

Officers are also considering involving specialist child interviewers to establish if the toddler witnessed the events that led to Ms Apine's death.

The suspect, who was arrested on Sunday evening, continued to be detained at Kilkenny Garda Station last night.

Officers are trying to find out whether the fatal injuries suffered by Ms Apine were a result of being thrown down the stairs, or if the tragic mum may have been "struck with an object" which caused her to fall down the stairs at the apartment on Bridge Street.

Housing

Ms Apine moved into the rented house with her daughter last December, having lived for some time in Kilkenny city before that.

They had initially sought housing from Kilkenny County Council, and previously lived at St Teresa's Terrace in the city.

Ms Apine was not working but was hoping to learn to drive later this year and seek work when her daughter started pre-school.

"She came to my clinic looking for help for housing and with a social welfare application," local councillor, Andrew McGuinness, said yesterday.

"That would have been in June of last year. I don't know how long she was in Ireland."

The young mother had just come out of a relationship at the time and was looking for accommodation.

Mr McGuinness wrote a reference for Ms Apine to give to her landlord before she moved to Freshford.

"I had no problem doing that because she was a lovely girl," he said.

He added he bumped into Rita about three weeks ago.

"Every time she saw me she stopped me to say 'thank you'. When she came into the office she was always full of energy," he said.

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