Man who 'silenced' wife cleared of murder

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A retired Sydney accountant who said he strangled his wife to get some peace from her nagging and bullying has been acquitted of murder.

Instead, the NSW Supreme Court jury on Thursday found Engracio Songcuan guilty of manslaughter, an offence the 75-year-old had admitted.

The jurors took less than three hours to accept his claim he was acting in self-defence or was provoked when he killed her in the family garage.

"I had no choice but to silence her. A little bit of peace and a little bit of freedom ... I cannot really stand it anymore," Songcuan told police.

His actions were like a "dog biting back", he said.

The retiree, known as Fred, strangled his 69-year-old wife Erlinda, known as Linda, in their Woodcroft home on May 2, 2020.

The Crown claimed Songcuan had engaged in a "deliberate act of vengeance" against his wife after their relationship deteriorated, and frequent arguments about money and infidelity.

Their relationship worsened from early 2018, with arguments ramping up until the date of the killing, and the pair opting to sleep in separate bedrooms.

On his arrest, Songcuan told police he had bought a knife and considered killing himself at Rockwood cemetery at the grave of a son.

The retiree said his wife's mind had been poisoned and she constantly suspected him of having an affair which he denied.

"She was always abusing me," he said.

She would taunt, nag and bully him as well as pull knives on him and hit him with a slipper when they were driving.

He said he moved bedrooms as "I am afraid she might kill me because she is keeping knives in our room".

On May 2, he said she barged into his room and was hitting him with a large item and smashed the TV remote.

He ran downstairs to the garage so as not to waken their daughter.

His wife "followed me there still hitting me and shouting so I had no choice but to silence her".

Placing one hand over her mouth, he then wrapped his arm around her throat and squeezed for maybe 15 or 20 minutes.

At first she struggled but she then stopped breathing and he covered her body with clothes and cardboard boxes, and placed rope around her neck.

He said he did this to make it look like she had strangled herself.

"I think I overreacted but I decided better for me, instead of living a miserable life."

Asked if he would call her actions as life-threatening to him, he answered: "Her facial expression was like a tiger."

Days before her death, Songcuan texted their daughter to say his wife had hit him with a slipper for the third time but he didn't fight back.

He said she was paranoid, and there was no other woman and he asked their daughter to calm her down.

On the day before her death, Ms Songcuan's phone captured more than 24 images of bank statements and images of a birthday card, addressed to her husband, which she had found in the garage.

The woman who sent the card gave evidence of having nothing more than a friendship with Songcuan.

He told her he was unhappy in the marriage but couldn't leave because of their involvement in a church and because of what his family might think.

He also told her his wife nagged him but he was ready to put up with the situation.

Justice Stephen Campbell will hear sentence submissions on February 3.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

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