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Retired NZ doctor to stand trial on murder

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 20/10/2016 Darren Cartwright

A retired doctor will stand trial for the murder of a Brisbane socialite after a court hearing at which Queensland recruitment queen Sarina Russo said her friend would "absolutely not" have taken her own life.

Defence barrister Terry O'Gorman entered a not guilty plea on behalf of New Zealand-based Thomas Chris Lang, 64, who did not speak when Magistrate Belinda Merrin committed him to stand trial on a date to be fixed.

Maureen Boyce was found dead, with a knife embedded in her stomach, in her Kangaroo Point unit on October 22 last year.

Ms Russo told Brisbane's Magistrates Court she had a nine-minute conversation with Ms Boyce the night before she was found dead.

She said she calmed her down after the 68-year-old had been unsettled about her unit being on the market.

She said Ms Boyce was "very happy" at the end of their call and would "absolutely not" have taken her own life.

Ms Russo clashed with Mr O'Gorman several times in court, with Magistrate Belinda Merrin telling the pair to stop interrupting each other.

Ms Merrin also asked Ms Russo to be "responsive" to questions being asked by Mr O'Gorman.

Her direction came after Mr O'Gorman asked Ms Russo to look at a text exchange between herself and Ms Boyce, on the same night, in which Ms Boyce had "very high hopes" of selling her home.

But the court heard the unit didn't sell.

"This would not have led to a suicide," Ms Russo said.

When Mr O'Gorman asked her to answer a specific question about the text exchange, Ms Russo replied: "I am answering your question ... to the best of my ability."

Ms Russo told Mr O'Gorman she felt he was "trying to confuse" her.

Ms Boyce's psychiatrist, Dr Mark Spelman, said he did not believe she was suicidal at an appointment two days before her death.

He said she had expressed suicidal thoughts in the past and she had spoken of jumping off the balcony of her high-rise unit.

"Having known her for 15 years, anytime the issue of suicide would come up it had always been about jumping off her balcony," Dr Spelman told the court.

"There had never been any discussion about stabbing herself."

The court previously heard Lang's fingerprints were not found on the knife.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

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