‘Loving him took her life away,' murder victim's cousin says
Two cousins of a woman whose body was left lying in the Melbourne CBD said she had an extraordinary sense of humour and a heart of gold before she was cruelly strangled by her boyfriend.
Natalina Angok, 32, was murdered by Christopher Allen Bell on April 24 last year in a Chinatown laneway, the Supreme Court of Victoria heard on Wednesday.
Prosecutor Jeremy McWilliams said after the murder, Bell bought a souvlaki and a bottle of wine and went to Crown Casino.
In a joint victim impact statement, her cousins Dut and Aguer Athian said Bell should have been the one to protect the woman he murdered.
"Her decision to love him took her life away," they said.
Natalina's sister Sabrina Angok said she had begged her sibling to leave Bell.
She even threatened to tell their mother about the relationship as it was with someone whom she disapproved, she said.
She said she struggled with feelings of guilt, because that advice could have led to Bell killing Natalina in an alleyway in the early hours of the morning.
"April the 24th of (2019) was the worst day of my life," she said to Bell.
"It was the day I lost my sister, the day you took everything away from me.
"My sister was my life … she was the best thing. She was one in a million.
"(She) was the light of this family."
Sabrina said she fell asleep crying and sometimes had to pull over when she was driving because of mental breakdowns.
"(I'm) scared to face this life alone … I still have nightmares about the day of the funeral," she said.
"Nothing makes sense anymore.
"Only you and God will know the real reason why you killed her.
"I will never forgive you."
Defence lawyer Rohan Lawrence said Bell had been suffering worsening schizophrenia in the months leading up to the murder.
He couldn't remember what they had argued about before he killed her, the court heard.
Mr Lawrence said Bell had incorporated Ms Angok into his delusional thought systems.
He said and she became a feature of his supernatural and persecutory beliefs.
The court heard Bell's schizophrenia began to manifest about 2014, when he began accusing a previous girlfriend of trying to poison him.
In the weeks leading up to the murder, Bell spent some time in the adult mental health unit of Latrobe Regional Hospital, and was discharged into a nursing home as accommodation, the court heard.
Giving evidence on Wednesday, Bell said he left the nursing home because he believed an elderly resident was planning on taking over his body and living inside it.
"It sounds absurd, but that's what I believed," he said.
He said his "cavalier" behaviour immediately after the murder was motivated by a desire to "escape reality" by drinking.
"I was off the planet … my headspace right now is a lot different to what it was back then," he said.
"I didn't know what reality I was living in. I was hearing voices and seeing things that weren't even there.
"I'm not trying to excuse myself, but all I can say is I'm very regretful and I'm very sorry about it."
Bell has four children and doesn't have a relationship with any of them, Mr Lawrence said.
Justice Lex Lasry is considering his sentence.
Originally published as 'Loving him took her life away'