Man ‘argued with girlfriend night before murder’, court hears

Keith Rizzo, 23, is accused of killing Neomi Smith at her flat in Brechin last summer.

A man argued with his girlfriend the night before he allegedly murdered her, a court heard.

Keith Rizzo and Neomi Smith were said to have cut a night at a pub short to return to her flat in Brechin, Angus.

Rizzo is charged with killing the 23-year-old there on June 9 last year.

Jurors also heard claims Rizzo had weeks earlier pinned Miss Smith against a wall until she was knocked out.

The 23-year-old is on trial at the High Court in Glasgow, where he denies murder.

On Monday, the couple’s friend Kirsty McLeish gave evidence.

She told how she met the pair heading to Miss Smith’s flat around 11pm on June 8.

Prosecutor Duncan McPhie asked the 22-year-old if she spoke to Miss Smith.

She replied: “I asked how she and Keith were doing. She told me they were arguing quite a lot and that they were going home to have a break from the pub.”

Mr McPhie: “What was her mood like?”

Miss McLeish: “Still happy, but annoyed because they had been arguing.”

Prosecutors claim Rizzo murdered Miss Smith the next day.

The charge includes accusations that he compressed her neck as well as repeatedly struck her on the head and body with knives.

Rizzo also faces a separate charge of earlier assaulting Miss Smith to her injury and danger of life.

Miss McLeish told the trial she was with the couple at a hotel in Brechin last May 10.

She and Miss Smith then chatted about what allegedly happened the previous night.

Miss McLeish said: “She said her and Keith had been out at a pub in Brechin. He had got drunk and she remained sober.

“They had started arguing and gone home. Once at her flat, he had pressed her up against a wall by her throat until she passed out.

“She said once she had come to, they then went to bed.”

While with Miss Smith, Miss McLeish claimed to have noticed “bruises” on her neck.

Miss McLeish then alleged there was another incident around a week later.

She recalled being at Miss Smith’s flat when Rizzo returned shouting his girlfriend was an “embarrassment”.

Miss McLeish then claimed there was “very loud” arguing between the couple after Miss Smith told Rizzo to get out.

The witness alleged she went on to see Miss Smith’s mirrored wardrobe had been smashed.

Jurors were told Rizzo also hurled his iPhone towards Miss Smith.

Miss McLeish said: “I asked why he had done that. He sat on the sofa with his head in his hands.

“He started telling Neomi he loved her and that he did not want it to be like this.”

Rizzo claimed he was going to kill himself. Miss McLeish alleged she was then hit by him.

After initially hearing the couple continue to row in the stairwell, the witness recalled it going “very quiet”.

Miss McLeish said: “I saw Neomi sitting against the wall as if she was just coming to from passing out. She was struggling to realise I was there.

“She had a massive bump on her head.”

Rizzo’s friend Cameron Saunders later told the court how the accused “stormed” out of a pub last June 8 after spotting Miss Smith dancing with another man.

The 19-year-old said: “They were bumping bums.

“They were dancing away for a while when Keith said something along the lines of ‘that’s enough’.”

Mr Saunders said Rizzo appeared “angry” as he looked towards his partner and the other man.

He added: “He then pushed the table with some bottles on it that fell.

“There was a bottle left and he hit it across the table.”

It was claimed Rizzo soon exited Hudson’s Bar in Brechin.

Mr McPhie asked: “What did Neomi Smith do after Keith Rizzo stormed out the pub?”

Mr Saunders responded: “I think she was crying and saying ‘this is what I have to put up with’.”

Rizzo denies the charges.

The trial, before Lady Rae, continues.

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