Man ‘forced his way into flat before murdering girlfriend’

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

A man has gone on trial charged with the murder of his girlfriend.

Keith Rizzo, 23, is accused of killing Neomi Smith at her flat in Brechin, Angus, on June 9 last year.

It is claimed he initially forced entry to the property and compressed Miss Smith’s neck, restricting her breathing.

Rizzo is then said to have repeatedly struck the 23-year-old on the head and body with knives.

Rizzo faces a separate charge of assaulting Miss Smith to her injury and danger of life between May 5 and June 8, 2019.

Prosecutors claim this happened at her flat and Hudson’s Bar in Brechin.

The charge includes accusations Rizzo hit Miss Smith’s head off a wall, punched her and caused her to lose consciousness by again compressing her neck.

He is further charged with threatening and abusive behaviour against Miss Smith.

Rizzo also faces allegations involving four other women – three described on the indictment as his “ex-partner”.

These accusations span between December 2014 and May 2019.

Mary Saville – one of the women listed – was the first witness to testify in the trial at the High Court in Glasgow on Friday.

She told prosecutor Duncan McPhie they had been in a relationship after they started dating in 2014.

The 23-year-old support worker went on to allege a number of assaults at the hands of Rizzo.

She claimed the first was in his bedroom at his mum’s flat in Brechin.

Miss Saville said: “I was pushed into a sliding glass-mirrored door which smashed.”

The witness then recalled “things becoming physical” on a later date at her mum’s home in the town.

She initially alleged being shoved against a door.

Mr McPhie asked: “What happened to your neck?”

Miss Saville responded: “He compressed my neck while I was against the door.”

The witness further claimed she was “kicked in the ribcage”.

Miss Saville told jurors they split in 2016 after an incident at her home in Aberdeen.

She recalled confronting a “drunk” Rizzo about a message she had discovered.

Miss Saville claimed she had to leave her home before police were alerted.

Crown witness Murron Wallace said her and Rizzo had been “friends with benefits”.

But, she recalled him being “controlling and jealous”.

Mr McPhie asked: “In what way did he speak to you?”

The 19-year-old student replied: “He was very nasty and manipulative.

“He called me every name you could think of. He tried to belittle me, make me feel like I was nothing.”

Miss Wallace told jurors she stopped seeing Rizzo after they returned from America.

She later discovered he had been cheating on her.

Rizzo’s QC Donald Findlay asked: “You would confront him about that?”

Miss Wallace: “He denied it.”

The witness said police spoke to her during the inquiry into Ms Smith’s death.

Rizzo denies the charges and the trial, before Lady Rae, continues.

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