Published date09 October 2021
Publication titleIrish Times (Dublin, Ireland)
Natalia responded: "I am not a prisoner and I won't be looking over my shoulder at anyone anymore . . . you won't intimidate me anymore."

Within months of that exchange, Rafal had strangled Natalia in the house they shared with their three children and dumped her semi-naked body in a remote forest.

Just under two weeks before, Daniel Murtagh beat his former partner Nadine Lott to the point where she was completely unrecognisable, leaving her with grotesque injuries from which she would never recover, he too had messaged her.

Nadine began the exchange by telling her murderer: "Nothing is ever going to happen between us again, I want to make that clear."

Murtagh then asked Nadine whether she was seeing somebody, before writing: "Nadine I worry about ye, not in love, just don't slip." Nadine had replied: "Don't threaten me either."

Renato Gehlen, who stabbed his wife Anne Colomines to death just weeks after she told him that she wanted a divorce, sent Facebook messages. Gehlen told his wife's new lover to stay away from her, adding: "She is not available. Don't do terrible things to make her your girl."

Gehlen also wrote: "I hope I'm making this clear. Someone can get hurt and it doesn't need to be her. Stay away."

Presciently, Anne's boyfriend wrote to her of the messages: "He will freak out and it will fall back on you." Anne had told him not to worry about it.

The prosecution in Gehlen's trial had told the jury that his crime was about control. What had happened that night was the result of a man "who had lost control of his wife and could not handle it . . . who lost control of his marriage and could not handle the fact it was over". Gehlen had tried to regain what he saw as control over the situation by ending his marriage by his own hand.

This crime, senior counsel Shane Costelloe said, had amounted to "the ultimate in toxic masculinity".

Murders such as those committed by Murtagh, Karaczyn and Gehlen do not "come from nowhere", says UL professor of psychology Orla Muldoon.

"Men who murder their partners are men whose low-level psychological or physical abuse has gone unchecked."

She says that in Ireland, it may seem like such cases of femicide and domestic violence arise without warning "because we have very determinedly treated the attacks as single discrete events".

"The real question is why we continue to see these attacks as discrete, individual events. There is clearly a wider pattern of violence by men against women and also often against other men."

Nadine, Natalia, Anne

Nadine Lott was the second eldest child in a caring, close-knit family. "Nadine was popular, she was the funny one, the caring one, the sharer, the listener and the problem solver. She always found the best in a person," Claire Lott said of her daughter.

Nadine, who had loved the beauty industry since she was a child, travelled to Australia in June 2012 and found work in a salon. It was in Australia she also met Daniel Murtagh. Nadine returned to Ireland in the summer of 2013 but Murtagh did not come home at the same time and instead travelled back a few months later. In August 2016, she and Murtagh were supposed to move into a house together in Arklow. Murtagh, however, did not turn up when required and Nadine could not contact him to find out where he was.

"She decided she had tried hard enough at that stage and the relationship ended," her sister Phoebe told Murtagh's trial.

Rafal Karaczyn, who was raised by his grandparents after his mother left him when he was three, met Natalia when she was around 17 or 18 and he was 21.


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