NEWPORT MURDER TRIAL: 'Shots sounded like fireworks'
RAISED voices in a quiet city street were followed by 30 seconds of horrific violence that left a woman dead and her estranged husband severely injured, Newport Crown Court was told yesterday.
Witnesses told the second day of the trial of Christopher Parry, who is charged with the murder of his wife Caroline on August 8 last year, that they had seen or heard the couple talking and arguing on Seabreeze Avenue, moments before shots rang out shortly after 8.30am.
One woman who lives nearby sobbed as she described hearing two shots, then watching from a bedroom window as Parry shot himself in the head.
Parry, aged 50, denies the murder of his wife, but has pleaded guilty to her manslaughter.
The court was told by Jade Mineur, who lives in nearby Excelsior Close, that she had been downstairs feeding her baby when she heard “a commotion towards the back of the house.”
She assumed it was children and when she heard two loud bangs seconds later, thought it was fireworks.
“I put the baby down and went upstairs to look out of the window. There were two cars parked with their boots open” she said.
“I saw a man in a green t-shirt step between the cars. He had a gun in his right hand and was looking at something. He brought the gun up, pointed it at his face. I heard another bang and he fell flat.”
A distraught Miss Mineur told the court she had gone downstairs and outside, phoning the police as she went along a side alley.
The first person on the scene, she described checking the woman’s then the man’s pulse.
Asked by Parry’s defence counsel Roger Thomas to describe the expression on the man’s face before he shot himself, Miss Mineur said: “It was such a weird expression, not like shock but as if he could not believe it.”
In a witness statement read to the court, Rachel Williams, of Argosy Way, described seeing the cars and the man and woman standing by them as she reached Willenhall Street’s junction with Seabreeze Avenue while driving her four-year-old son to a swimming lesson.
She said the cars were boot to boot and parked well into the road, which she described as seeming “odd” and she thought there had been a minor accident.
She described the woman as looking “nervy” and standing with her arms across her chest.
She had the impression from the man’s stance and the look on his face that he was “intimidating and annoyed.”
Ms Williams thought about getting out and intervening but had to get her son to the swimming pool. On her return the road was blocked and police told her that there had been a major incident.
“I knew straight away. I wished I had stopped and made sure she was OK,” she said in her statement.
Another resident of Excelsior Way, Natalia Jonczy, estimated that 30 seconds went by between her seeing the man and a woman arguing, and hearing the third shot.
In her witness statement she described going upstairs to wake her daughter, opening the curtains and window, and seeing the man and woman in the street behind the house “arguing in raised voices” next to two cars, red and black.
She said she heard a bang like a firework, went to another bedroom and heard another bang. She then saw smoke rising from behind a tree in the garden and “realised it was a gun.”
She saw the man walking away from the red car but was not looking out when she heard a third bang. When she did look, she saw the man lying on the ground.
Adrian Robinson, who works at the city council’s Bridge Training Centre in Willenhall Street, described in his witness statement hearing what he thought was a car backfiring and saw out of a window the cars boot to boot and a man looking down behind one of them.
Mr Robinson was half way across the centre car park when he heard another bang: “I heard a woman shout “he has a gun, call the police” and I ran back towards the office and closed the shutters to keep everyone safe.”
Home Office pathologist Dr Richard Jones told the court that each of the two shotgun wounds sustained by Mrs Parry in her back would have been fatal on its own, both having caused massive internal injuries.
Ballistics expert Robert Griffiths estimated Mrs Parry had been shot at from distances of around four-and-half and five-and-a-half metres.
The man with whom Caroline Parry was living when she was killed, told the court that her husband had been abusive to her on repeated occasions during phone calls in which he had initially pleaded with her to go back to him.
Gary Bidmead, of Liberty Grove, Newport, described having met Mrs Parry while he was walking his dog along the riverside in Newport.
Over subsequent meetings they had got to know each other as friends and she had told him she was married to Parry, and that she was going to move out. “She told me things about her marriage. She was unhappy prior to the break-up.”
“She said he (Parry) was very controlling and would not let her go out or even go on holidays with her mother to a caravan.
“She said she was not allowed out after seven at night, and he was continually texting and phoning her asking where she was, and she had to tell him straightaway.”
Mr Bidmead said Mrs Parry told him she had had not been happy in the marriage for five years, since her father had died, and she said Parry told her to “get over it”.
She had been planning to live with her mother after leaving her husband, but when he (Mr Bidmead) had moved into his new home in Liberty Grove – he had left his partner – she moved in and it “stayed like that”.
Mr Bidmead denied a suggestion from Parry’s defence counsel Roger Thomas that he had thought Mrs Parry was a “vulnerable woman who would be attracted by your advances”.
He said their relationship had started in March, not several weeks earlier as Mr Thomas had suggested.
He knew that Parry had been left devastated by his wife leaving and that he was begging her to go back, and had been trying to get in touch with her “all the time”.
Parry had not, said Mr Bidmead, been abusive in any of the texts he had sent to his wife that he had seen, but said “when he was on the phone he was very abusive to her”.
Mr Bidmead said Parry had never threatened him and the pair had never spoken, but that he had seemed to be following Mrs Parry around, and she had spotted him overtaking them or in the car travelling behind them.
In the weeks before she died she had changed her phone and things had got quieter, but Mr Bidmead said Mrs Parry would get agitated and do things like go to the window if she heard a car go by.
Kieran James, senior lobby manager at the Celtic Manor Resort, where Parry was a driver, said in a statement read in court that Parry had been “capable and a good worker,” and “well respected and conscientious”.
He said Parry had been “extremely upset” over the separation with his wife, “could not see a reason, and was really shocked”.