Nurse's murder: 'I will hunt her down', reads sinister texts sent by husband's mistress

The State has said alleged accomplice in Filipino nurse Mary Grace's murder, Haleemath Lamha sent text messages to the main suspect and Mary's husband, Marvin Eswai Vargas, stating that she would 'hunt down' his wife.

The police began investigating IGMH nurse Mary's death on October 19 last year, when her husband reported her death to the police as a suicide. The police arrested Marvin the following day and later arrested Marvin's lover and colleague, Haleemath Lamha, on December 16. Both Marvin and Haleemath worked as IGMH nurses.

The State has raised three charges against 24-year-old Lamha. Lamha is suspected of conspiring to murder, hiding the death, conspiracy to commit a crime, requesting a crime, possessing resources used to commit the crime, and giving false information to an official authority. In a hearing held at the Criminal Court on Sunday, charges were heard, and the defense was given the opportunity to respond to the charges.

The State on Sunday detailed the charge of conspiring to murder, a charge to which the defendant pleads not guilty.

The State said when Mary found out Marvin was having an affair with Lamha, disagreements transpired between Lamha and Mary, and Lamha made threats against Mary. The State said in order to allow Marvin to carry out Mary's murder, Lamha looked after the couple's four-year-old child in her home and brought the child back to Marvin's apartment, and spent approximately 20 minutes at the apartment. She then left the apartment, and roughly a minute later, Marvin called the IGMH ambulance service and reported that Mary had hanged herself. The State said after killing Mary, Marvin and Lamha tried to cover up their tracks and make it seem as if Mary had committed suicide.

If Lamha is convicted of the charge, she will be jailed for seven years, and six days, the State said,

In their response, the defense said the charges were not clear and inquired from the State when and how Lamha had threatened Mary. They inquired how it was known that Lamha entered Mary's apartment on the day of Mary's death and asked how the State was aware of Lamha's actions inside the apartment.

Public Prosecutor Ahmed Naufal said while Lamha was aware that Mary also used Marvin's mobile phone, Lamha sent text messages to Marvin's phone. One of the messages read, 'I will hunt her down', and while sending the messages, Lamha had asked if Mary was reading the messages, he noted.

The State further said CCTV footage proves Lamha entered Marvin and Mary's apartment and said the video shows Lamha attempting to avoid leaving a fingerprint by touching the doorknob with a t-shirt around her hand.

The defense attorney, Abdulla Shairu, raised questions about some of the text messages allegedly sent by Lamha. While the State noted that Lamha had given instructions to Marvin on how to administer a lethal injection to Mary, the defense questioned why Marvin, being a registered senior nurse at IGMH ER himself, would need instructions from Lamha on how to administer an injection. He further claimed that most of the points noted by the State were statements said in hopes of making it to headlines in local news.

The State said Marvin and Mary's child may have witnessed the events surrounding Mary's death to some extent. While the State said they were attempting to obtain a forensic psychological report of the child, it would be challenging for the defense to go ahead with the trial without the report, it was noted. Relevant authorities are preparing the report in the Philippines, where the child currently resides.

The defense said while both Marvin and Lamha had given lengthy statements to the investigation, it did not include any information on what Lamha did inside Marvin's home. Therefore, the whole case rests on the words of a child, he noted. Although Maldives Police Service and the Family and Children Service were more than capable of carrying out the psychological assessment of the child, Shaairu questioned why the State had not conducted the test while the child was still in the Maldives.

State prosecutor Naufal said it is not certain that the child may give his account of the incident. Therefore, he said it was not wise to depend on the child's word and delay presenting charges. Although the report is not received, the State has submitted other evidence to prove the charges against the defendant, he said.

The presiding judge said the State has the opportunity to submit the report before the end of the preliminary stage of the trial. However, the report may not be submitted after the trial starts, he said.

During Sunday's hearing, Lamha's remand was also reviewed. Lamha said she had spinal disc issues and that she used to exercise regularly and followed a strict diet to manage her condition before being held in custody. However, she said she can no longer keep up her healthy lifestyle, and she now has a herniation on a disc, which has severely impacted her quality of life. She said that having to lift water buckets when using the bathroom further worsens her condition.

Lamha's lawyer said she slipped in the bathroom on the night of April 21 and was taken to Hulhumale Hospital in an emergency. She was later taken to ADK Hospital. The doctor who assessed her in Hulhumale' Hospital had recommended bed rest and instructed her not to lift heavy objects.

However, as the information was not previously relayed to the Sate, the judge said another hearing would be scheduled for next Tuesday to discuss Lamha's remand.