Mystery still surrounds the sudden death of a mother, whose husband was acquitted of murdering her with a pair of leggings two years ago, an inquest has heard.
The Deputy Viscount Advocate Mark Harris, acting coroner, yesterday recorded an ‘open verdict’ as he closed the inquest into the death of Ana Rebelo (51).
Mrs Rebelo was found at her Victoria Street home on 4 April 2017 having died from strangulation, which sparked a major police inquiry.
It was believed that her husband had killed her with her daughter’s leggings after she confessed to a decade-long affair with a man she wanted to move to Portugal with, but he was acquitted of her murder following a lengthy Royal Court trial in January.
Pictured: The inquest took place at Morier House.
With criminal proceedings having concluded, yesterday saw Mrs Rebelo’s inquest reopened to establish exactly what caused her death.
While Advocate Harris concluded that she had died by “compression of the neck due to ligature”, he said it was not possible to establish how this had happened.
His finding came after the inquest heard about the evidence garnered by Police over the course of their investigation, including Ana’s whereabouts in the days leading up to her death, as well as that of her children, Mr Rebelo and her lover.
The findings of the post-mortem examinations carried out by Dr Russell Delaney and Dr Richard Shepherd, a Home Office registered pathologist and consultant forensic pathologist respectively, were also discussed.
Dr Delaney said it was unlikely that Ana’s death had been self-inflicted, noting that no credible assertion as to how that would have happened had been put forward.
Pictured: Mrs Rebelo was found dead at her home in Victoria Street just over two years ago.
Dr Shepherd, on the other hand, concluded Ana’s death could have been caused by self-strangulation. “There were no features in the case that were not consistent with self-strangulation but there were a number of features that were not consistent with homicide,” he said.
A statement from Mr Rebelo – who didn’t give evidence during the trial as is his right – was read as part of the inquest. In it, he explained Ana and him had been married for over 30 years, got along well and loved each other.
He denied knowing anything about her involvement with her lover, saying he “believed in my wife.”
He said he had found Ana dead in the bed in the lounge and became confused -“I started screaming and I lost it,” he wrote – adding that he removed something from her neck but couldn’t remember the details of this.
He denied causing injuries found on Ana’s face or ever assaulting her.
Pictured: Mr Rebelo faced a trial over Ana's murder earlier this year and was acquitted.
Advocate Harris queried whether Ana’s death could have been the result of suicide, but eventually concluded that “it was not a clear case”, and that he couldn’t be sure she intended to take her own life.
He said there was not enough evidence the support the possibility of an accidental death either. He said he therefore had made “an open conclusion as to how and by what means [Mrs Rebelo] came to her death.”
He concluded she had died time sometime during the preceding night by compression of the neck due to ligature, but added that, “despite a criminal trial for murder”, it hadn’t been possible to establish how she came by her death.
Before closing the inquest, the Coroner issued words of condolences to Ana’s family and friends, saying he was “very sorry” for their loss.
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