Marie Van Beers, 63, who was killed at Tweed Heads in 2018. Picture: supplied
Marie Van Beers, 63, who was killed at Tweed Heads in 2018. Picture: supplied

Son gave mum a knife to keep under bed, murder trial hears

A TWEED Heads woman, who was allegedly fatally stabbed by her ex-partner, was given a knife by her son as protection weeks before her death, a court heard.

Paul Thomas Ryan, 66, is before a judge only trial for the murder of 63-year-old Marie Van Beers, at the Lismore Supreme Court.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Mr Ryan is accused of stabbing Ms Van Beers between 36 to 37 times in their Brett St unit, Tweed Heads, on November 12, 2018.

The pair had been together for 37-years before separating about two years before Ms Van Beers' death.

However, they continued to live together, the court heard.

Mr Ryan's defence barrister, Jason Watts, said his client's, who does not dispute he killed Ms Van Beers having pleaded guilty to her manslaughter, long sustained alcoholism had contributed to his ability to control himself through his mood disorder.

The Crown Prosecution has ultimately rejected his manslaughter plea. 

Mr Ryan and Ms Van Beers' eldest son, Christopher Ryan, gave evidence before the trial on Thursday.

He told the court he had held serious concern for his father's physical and mental health in the years and months leading up to his mother's death.

Christopher Ryan said his father had spent some time in hospital for various medical conditions and mental health.

"I was very concerned about his wellbeing and his health, to watch your father to go downhill very quickly," he said.

"I was worried for his safety and his wellbeing; I could see his mind was failing him."


Marie Van Beers was allegedly murdered in her Tweed Heads unit in 2018. Photo: Facebook
Marie Van Beers was allegedly murdered in her Tweed Heads unit in 2018. Photo: Facebook


Christopher Ryan said he was trying to undertake full guardianship of his father to allow his mother to relocate to Port Macquarie.

He told the court about his mother's concerns for her safety while his father was in his current condition in the last weeks of her life.

"I gave her one of my chef knives and (said) 'leave it under your bed, if he comes near you it would be self-defence'," Christopher Ryan said.

"However, at that stage he was very week, I thought mum would be able to overcome him."

Ms Van Beers' sister, Moya Reid, also gave evidence via video link on Thursday.

Mrs Reid told the court her sister's relationship with Mr Ryan was filled with constant "verbal abuse" combined with Mr Ryan's on-going alcoholism.

She told the court she never felt comfortable in the presence of Mr Ryan, especially when he referred to her sister as a "fat c-t" on numerous occasions.

"I felt uncomfortable being there when he was drinking," she said.

"He would (verbally) abuse her to the extent of having her in tears.

"(It was) nasty, abusive language towards her."

Mrs Reid said she recalled during one particular holiday when she was visiting her sister's family on the Tweed Coast in 2006, Mr Ryan said "'if I can't have her nobody can have her, they will have to drag her out in a bag".

When questioned whether she'd ever heard him threaten Ms Van Beers' life before, Mrs Reid said "the very first time" she met him he told her "I've got what I want now and if I can't have her nobody will have her".

The court heard Mrs Reid received a phone call from her sister the night she died, where Ms Van Beers told her "he has a knife to my throat".

"You could hear the terror in her voice," Mrs Reid said.

"(She was saying) 'he's got a knife to my throat; he's going to kill me'."

Mrs Reid handed the phone to her husband and called Triple 0.

Ms Van Beers had successfully taken out an apprehended violence order against Mr Ryan the day of her death.

The trial will continue today (Friday) in the Lismore Supreme Court.