'hard to live' | 

Husband of woman murdered on way home from work says ‘we were each other’s first loves’

The court also heard today that the teenager, who was 14 when he carried out the murder, has 31 previous convictions

Ryan DunneSunday World

The husband of murdered Mongolian national Urantsetseg Tserendorj has told the Central Criminal Court how hard it was to carry on living after his wife was murdered by a teenager as she walked home from work.

The court also heard today that the teenager, who was 14 when he carried out the murder, has 31 previous convictions, including those related to robbery, violence and drugs.

“Humans lack humans, we lack each other’s love, what we share is happiness and sorrows, but now it is very hard to live,” said Ulambayer Surenkhor in a victim impact statement read out during the sentencing hearing of the 16-year-old boy convicted of his wife’s murder.

The accused, who cannot be named because he is a minor, had denied the murder of Ms Tserendorj (49) but had pleaded guilty (GUILTY) to her manslaughter on January 29, 2021.

The State did not accept his plea. The jury in his trial returned a guilty verdict to Mr Justice Tony Hunt after eight hours and 59 minutes of deliberations.

Ms Tserendorj was stabbed in the neck on a walkway between George’s Dock and Custom House Quay in the IFSC, Dublin on January 20, 2021, after the teenager attempted to rob her.

Ms Tserendorj was declared dead on the evening of January 29, 2021, because of lack of oxygen to the brain caused by a stab wound no bigger than 1.5cm that partially severed her carotid artery. To facilitate family travelling to Ireland from abroad, she was kept on life support until February 3. Ms Tserendorj, who worked in Dublin's city centre, had moved to Ireland with her husband and two children approximately 15 years before she was killed.

At today’s sentencing hearing, Detective Sergeant Brendan Casey confirmed to counsel for the prosecution, Seán Guerin SC, that the victim was making her way home on foot on the night when she was approached by the teenager who asked for money. When she said she did not have any money, he stabbed her. She was operated on and the injury repaired but she never recovered.

Urantsetseg Tserendorj

Det Sgt Casey said that the attack was captured on CCTV footage. The teenager approached her on a bicycle, got off, and there was some interaction between them before he produced a knife from his pocket and raised his hand to her neck twice, striking her once.

When the gardaí attended at his home the following day in response to a report of a stolen bicycle, the teenager told them that he was responsible for stabbing her.

Det Sgt Casey said that evidence was heard at the trial that both of the teenager’s parents were chronic drug addicts. His grandmother gave evidence of him becoming involved in the abuse of drugs from an early age.

Det Sgt Casey said that the teenager had 31 previous convictions, including two attempted robberies and five robberies, one production of an article, one assault causing harm, and a number of drug offences.

Mr Surenkhor’s victim impact statement was read to the court by Mr Guerin, as were all victim impact statements at the hearing. In the statement, Mr Surenkhor said that he and his family had lived happily until “that terrible tragedy”.

“I lost my beloved wife and our children lost their mother. My health has been affected by severe mental difficulties and I have heart problems. I get unstable, lose my temper, and I just want to scream. She was kind and soft like my mother, and we were each other’s first loves. That horrible day, due to the loss of her mother, my daughter is in deep emotional turmoil,” said Mr Surenkhor.

A victim impact statement was made by Ms Tserendorj’s 17-year-old daughter, Suvd, who said she has been suffering mental health difficulties since her mother’s murder.

“Losing half of myself has left me feeling hopeless. I lost all of my motivation, and the times I managed to make it into school, I spent 90% of the time with the school counsellors. I am still paralysed by what happened,” she said.

A victim impact statement was also given by Ms Tserendorj’s son, Tamir, who lives in Mongolia.

“I still have a hard time getting my head straight. She was the most joyful, caring and kind person who treated everyone equally. I went back to Mongolia but it is very difficult. We have relatives back home who are deeply upset. At this hard time, finances are a major concern. Psychologically my father should be looked after,” he said.

And a victim impact statement was made by Ms Tserendorj’s sister, Undrakh Tserendorj, who described her sister as “a sparkling young mother, a good wife, and a good friend”. She said that her own mother passed away shortly after the stabbing, and she attributed this as being directly related to her sister’s murder.

“Nothing in this world can ever compensate us for the mental and emotional pain,” she said.

On the same night as the murder, the teenager attempted to steal a phone from another woman, Tayo Odelade. Det Sgt Casey said she resisted and swore at him, to which the teenager said he was only messing. Ms Odelade replied that he was not messing and again cursed at him. He got offended and said: “That could have been a lot worse for you.” He then took out a knife which she said was about 5 inches long. She apologised and he put the knife away and left.

The teenager was also charged with an incident in a Spar shop in O’Connell Street at 5.30am on the same date. Det Sgt Casey said the teenager went to the till with sweets behind his back and said to the shopkeeper: “I have a fucking blade, what are you going to do about it?” Another employee arrived and the accused left the shop, but as he was leaving, he said: “You don’t know who you’re dealing with.”

The shopkeeper, John Caulwell, made a victim impact statement in which he said: “I was petrified and feared for my safety. When he left, I was trembling, all I could think about was that I could be stabbed. I am 16 years in my business and this is the only time I thought I might be killed.”

There was a final charge against the teenager of stealing a bicycle two days earlier on January 18 in Talbot Place. Det Sgt Casey said that a woman, Yu Yu Son, was working late and she was about to get on her bike when she was approached by the teenager, who put one hand on the handlebars and one hand on the seat. He used the bike to push her, injuring her legs, before he pulled the bike from her, got on it and cycled away. Both her legs were bruised and very sore. She recognised him later and recorded an image which she shared with gardaí.

In her victim impact statement, Ms Son said: “I leave the light on when I go to bed, and whenever I see teenagers in black clothing and hats, I get afraid. I’m afraid to chat face to face with strangers.”

As part of the mitigation by defence, the teenager’s grandmother read out a letter to the court, which she said she had written to give a glimpse into the child he was.

“I am not a mother who sees no wrong in a child. I never had anything to do with crime and I don’t condone criminal behaviour,” she said.

She said her grandson used to be sports mad, excelling at hurling and boxing. She said that the exact night he changed was when his birth mother introduced herself to him in the street and when she did not get what she wanted from him, his mother said she would cut herself. The witness said that her grandson never returned to boxing or GAA after that and began to get into trouble at school.

“His new friends were all involved in stealing bikes and using the money to buy drugs. I got many agencies involved but nothing worked. He would be awake at night crying and made three suicide attempts,” she said.

She said that Ms Tserendorj has become part of her prayers, and the pain of watching Ms Tserendorj’s husband “brought me to my knees”.

Defence counsel, Michael O’Higgins SC said that the murder was not premeditated and the crime was opportunistic. He said the teenager was paying the price for his actions and had engaged with various services during his time in detention. He said the teenager became dependent on cannabis at 13 and progressed to cocaine.

“He was using phenomenal amounts of drugs at this time,” said Mr O’Higgins, adding that the teenager had taken “a very significant quantity of drugs” on the day of the murder.

Mr O’Higgins asked the court to give his client the maximum credit it could to reflect the offence and the circumstances of the offender.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt put the matter back to January 16, 2023 to deliver sentence and remanded the teenager in detention to that date.

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