Jury hears of violence

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A MAN accused of murdering his Thai wife by choking has told a court how he “flipped” one morning when she allegedly threatened to “make his life hell”.

Rickie Nehls claimed to a jury that his wife, who was known as Boom, had been violent towards him in the past, threatened to kill him and also subjected him to repeated verbal abuse.

Giving evidence at his Preston Crown Court trial, he spoke of having felt faint, as though underwater, and remembered having his arms around her neck, though he did not know for how long.

The incident in the front bedroom of their home on Maple Crescent, Leigh occurred one Tuesday morning last April. By that time they were sleeping apart.

When police entered the mid terraced property the body of Pornpilai Srisroy was found in the front bedroom, covered by a duvet on the double bed and with a pillow over her face. A post mortem examination confirmed she had been strangled or choked.

Nehls denies murder, but admits manslaughter. The Crown have not accepted his pleas and their case is that the killing amounted to murder.

Nehls, 30, told how he had met Boom while on holiday in Bangkok in year 2001. She and a friend had approached him in the bar where she worked and he was flattered by her attentions.

He described himself as later being “besotted” with her. They married on his fourth visit to Thailand. Then in 2005, after some difficulties in gaining a visa, she came to this country to live with him.

The defendant said she took to living over here better than he expected. He thought Boom loved him too. He claimed she could sometimes have a temper and had once hit him with a pool cue. He insisted he had never used violence before towards her or threatened her in the past.

“I still loved her. It wasn’t going to change the way I felt about her. If you love someone, you love someone.”

He said he never hated her. “I just used to think in my head, ‘just get through this and we’ll be alright’.

“She threatened to kill me in my sleep. She threatened to kill me, cut me up and eat me”. Such things would happen on a monthly, sometimes fortnightly basis, he suggested.

He broke down as he told the court that sometimes he had not turned up for work, because she had threatened to kill him in his sleep and he had not been able to get rest.

In the summer of last year, he said he got in touch with a domestic abuse hotline.

Nehls also claimed that his wife had damaged most of his collection of Star Wars memorabilia, worth thousands of pounds, that he had built up since he was a child.

On the morning of her death she had entered his room before 6.30am and looked angry. She wanted to know what he had done about getting a passport for their young child. Nehls alleged that she told him if she found out the child needed a passport she was going to go mad and make his life hell.

He said he then felt weird. His heart was pounding and he was getting worried and scared. His legs felt numb and shaky.

He told the court: “I felt faint and was sweating. That must have been the point I just flipped. I don’t know how long I had hold of her.”

Nehls said he accepted that as a result, he knew serious harm was going to be caused. He had not realised she was dead afterwards, but thought she was unconscious.

The trial continues and is due to end next week.