January 29, 2008 02:27pm
A WOMAN accused of binding her elderly father in clingfilm and suffocating him with a pillow believed he was a demon and he "had to go", a court has been told.
Ederino Beltrame, 70, died in April 2001 with a doctor signing off his death as being from natural causes.
He had been suffering a terminal heart condition and was in hospital with a brain haemorrhage in the months before his death.
An inquest into Mr Beltrame's death was halted last year after his granddaughter and primary carer Romina came forward to accuse her mother, Daniella, of his murder.
Daniella Beltrame has pleaded not guilty to murder, forging her father's will and intimidating her second daughter Loretta to prevent her giving evidence at the inquest.
Opening committal proceedings against ms Beltrame today in Sydney's Central Local Court, prosecutor Stephen Higgins SC said relations between Ms Beltrame and her father were strained for some years and arguments had escalated into violence.
"In the early hours of the 26th of April, 2001 (Romina) was woken by her mother, the defendant, calling her from her grandfather's room to come and help," Mr Higgins told the court.
"When she entered the room she saw her grandfather bound to the bed with Gladwrap and her mother forcing a pillow onto his face.
"After a struggle Romina was forced from the room. Her mother (followed) a short time later and told her that her grandfather was a demon and that he had to go.
"When she woke the next morning her grandfather was dead."
"The defendant presented documents which she demanded Loretta sign," Mr Higgins said.
"Loretta only looked at one of these documents which stated that she, Loretta, had wanted to kill her grandfather."
Mr Beltrame's doctor Syed Zaman told the court he did not closely examine the body before signing a death certificate.
"I did not examine him because I had known the patient's condition and the way he was sinking," Dr Zaman said.
"I took it for granted that it was a matter of time."
Experts today agreed it was impossible to say with certainty whether Mr Beltrame had been smothered or had died from disease.The hearing continues.