A Muslim man who fatally stabbed his wife in front of their children started drinking and stopped praying in the weeks before the attack, a Perth court has heard.
Messaoud Chiha is on trial in the West Australian Supreme Court, charged with murdering his 45-year-old wife in their family’s Canning Vale home on April 29, 2013.
In recorded evidence, one of his daughters, who was in year 12 at the time, said her father’s behaviour changed significantly in the preceding weeks.
He stopped praying to Allah five times a day and drank alcohol, which he hadn’t done before, she said.
She said he was suspicious of people, saying people were following him or trying to persecute him – although that was not unusual as he was “always paranoid of government and people in authority”.
His personal hygiene deteriorated and he stopped showering after returning home from work in a steel recycling plant, she said.
In the fortnight before her mother’s death, she noticed her father was angry about money.
The victim was meant to have used the proceeds from a car sale to help pay off a mortgage-related debt to a friend, but she instead bought another car.
And on the day of the attack, Chiha uncharacteristically took a day off work, claiming he hadn’t got up in time then saying his car wasn’t safe enough to drive in the rain.
But it hadn’t been raining.
“That seems odd, doesn’t it?” the daughter said under cross-examination.
That night, Chiha cut his wife’s neck with a serrated knife in front of his daughter and one of her brothers, then stabbed his spouse in the back.
The son struggled with his father and the daughter tried to call the police but the accused kicked her in the face, the court heard.
She ran next door for help, and shortly after her father was arrested while paramedics tried to revive her mother.
Chiha is pleading not guilty on the grounds of insanity.