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Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Murders of mother and daughter “barbaric”, inquest hears

The murders of a mother and daughter who were killed in their Newry apartment were “barbaric”, an inquest into their deaths has heard.

The bodies of Giselle Marimon-Herrera (37) and her fifteen-year-old daughter Allison were found in their home in Glin Ree on March 7th 2019.  The body of Ms Marimon-Herrera’s partner Russell Steele was also discovered in the property.  All three died in a horrific double-murder suicide when Steele murdered the women before taking his own life.

At the inquest hearing on Thursday in Armagh Courthouse, Coroner Joe McCrisken said it was “one of the most difficult” inquests he has ever presided over.  He thanked members of the Marimon-Herrera family in attendance for their “dignity” throughout the police investigation and inquests, and paid tribute to the PSNI for a “genuinely excellent” investigation.

Presenting his findings, Mr McCrisken declared that Giselle Marimon-Herrera died from asphyxiation and suffocation and Allison Marimon-Herrera died due to manual strangulation and suffocation.  He said he could not be satisfied that Ms Marimon-Herrera had been sexually assaulted, but that there is evidence her daughter had been raped.

The final resting place in Portugal of Giselle and Allison Marimon-Herrera. (Photo released by PSNI at request of family)

A statement from Ms Marimon-Herrera’s sister Paola was read to the inquest, describing how her sister had arrived in Northern Ireland in 2016 after separating from her Portuguese husband, and was followed by her daughter in 2017.  She said her sister had felt Steele was “controlling” and she had wanted to end the relationship.

PSNI Investigating Officer Victoria Holmes said text messages exchanged between Steele and Ms Marimon-Herrera revealed a recent argument that included an attempt by her Evidence from an ex-partner of Ms Marimon-Herrera and a neighbour, believed to have been the last person to have seen Steele alive, were also heard.

The inquest heard Steele had a criminal record, which included a conviction for an assault for which he had received an eight-month prison sentence.

Delivering his findings, Mr McCrisken said neither Ms Marimon-Herrera nor her daughter would have been likely to have been able to fend off an attack by Steele.

“The killing of Giselle Marimon-Herrera and her 15-year-old daughter Allison by Russell Steele was barbaric,” he said.

“Giselle Marimon-Herrera was a woman of small stature. Her 15-year-old daughter and her would have been unable to offer any resistance against an attack by Russell Steele.

“I am satisfied that he acted alone for a reason that is unknown. The killings were an impulsive act carried out by an individual with a history of aggression and violence.”

In a statement released through the PSNI, the family of Giselle and Allison Marimon-Herrera said they are “absolutely devastated”.

“We are a very private family who have been catapulted into the public domain as a result of this murder.

“We would like again to thank the public, Michael Savage SDLP, Neal Rushe Youth Sinn Fein, Newry Credit Union and Kim Winters who organised donations which the family used to travel from France and Columbia to Northern Ireland where they were able to see where they lived and to meet pupils and teachers at Newry High School which Allison attended. The fund also assisted in paying for the cremation of both Giselle and Allison which took place in Belfast and it also paid for all the family to travel to Portugal where their ashes have been laid to rest.

“The family appeal to anyone who is at risk of domestic violence to seek help,” the statement added.