Husband ‘threatened wife with shotgun after she demanded divorce’

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Editorial image.

An “obsessed” husband allegedly threatened his estranged partner with a shotgun after being told she wanted a divorce, the High Court has heard.

Prosecutors claimed the woman pleaded for her life after arriving at her south Tyrone home last week to discover Atis Heinbergs lying in wait.

Heinbergs is also accused of telling her he had hired a hitman, and installing tracking and spying devices on her car and computer.

The defendant, a 32-year-old Latvian national, is charged with possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, threats to kill, and having a knife with intent to commit an indictable offence.

He also faces counts of aggravated burglary, unauthorised access to computer material, attempted criminal damage and common assault.

Adjourning his application for bail, a judge ordered the preparation of a psychiatric report.

Crown lawyer Conor Maguire set out a series of alleged incidents between August 19 and 22.

In the first, Heinbergs, a mechanic with a current address at Tattynuckle Road in Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh, is accused of holding a kitchen knife to his wife’s stomach and telling her: “This is it, you have two choices – either take me back or we are both dead.”

Three days later he jumped out at the woman when she returned to her home in the Fivemiletown area, the court heard.

Heinbergs asked who she had been texting and pushed her on to a bed before producing a shotgun stored underneath, Mr Maguire claimed.

“He pointed the gun directly at her and said ‘there’s no going back, I told you you’re dead’,” the barrister said.

“She pleaded with him not to shoot, thinking he was going to shoot.”

Mr Justice Deeney was told Heinbergs has accepted some of the offences, but denies making any threats to kill his wife.

“He said he had become obsessed with his former partner, he admitted to purchasing and installing a tracker device on her car, and admitted to installing software on her computer to spy on her,” Mr Maguire continued.

“His internet history shows he also looked into purchasing a spycam.”

Heinbergs was said to have sent constant messages and made hundreds of phone calls to his wife.

The court was told he got a key cut so he could get into her flat without permission, using it to bring the shotgun in, place it under her bed and hide until she came home.

Police searched the property after being told Heinbergs had left a “surprise” for her, Mr Maguire added.

Photographs of what they found were described as a “funeral” scene of a wreath or flowers laid out on a bed.

“Police say it has sinister connotations,” according to Mr Maguire.

Defence counsel Michael Forde said Heinbergs, who has lived in Northern Ireland for 13 years, realises his behaviour was inappropriate.

“This seems to be a man who has had an acute reaction to his wife informing him that she wants a divorce,” he added.

A close friend of the accused testified that he would let Heinbergs live with him on condition he seeks immediate counselling.

But as the application was adjourned, Mr Justice Deeny noted: “Domestic violence is common, but resorting to bringing a gun to the house is uncommon.”