THE jury in the trial of Barbie Kardashian, who is charged with threatening to kill or cause serious harm to her mother and another person, retired today to continue its deliberations on Monday.
Ms Kardashian (20), of no fixed abode, has pleaded not guilty to 11 charges of threatening to kill her mother Maria Luque, and her former social care worker Michael Mannix, at Coovagh House, Limerick, a secure facility for troubled youths, in 2020.
Ms Kardashian, who was born a male named Gabriel Alejandro Gentile, but identifies as female, changed her name by deed poll, and was granted a certificate by the Department of Social Protection, which recognises her gender as female, the jury heard.
In his closing speech, defence barrister Mark Nicholas said several witnesses involved in Ms Kardashian’s care at Coovagh House had given evidence that they were not immediately alarmed by her alleged threats.
The utterances of Ms Kardashian were “commonplace” in such a challenging work environment and they were not taken seriously, said Mr Nicholas.
Mr Nicolas said he accepted “ugly, nasty and gruesome” words were uttered by his client about her mother and about staff, but he argued these were not of a chilling, sinister or criminal nature.
He said Ms Kardashian’s care workers did not log each alleged threat as significant events, and they did not immediately relay them to Gardaí; and there was no evidence Ms Kardashian had any history of assaulting anyone while a resident in Coovagh House from 2018 to 2020.
Mr Nicholas told the jury that Ms Kardashian “has a desire to shock, a desire to be the centre of attention” and her words had to be taken in this context.
“Barbie Kardashian has had a terrible life, a horrible horrible experience. She’s invited into a care setting. She’s told it’s a safe place, a non-judgmental place. She is young, she is confused, she is turning 18, she takes the invitation and uses it to try to process things. That promised safe place offered to a vulnerable, damaged kid, turns out to be ‘the dock’,” said Mr Nicholas.
He added, the prosecution was “all perfectly within the law, but I’m uncomfortable with it”.
“It reminds me of the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and the character of the Child Catcher who would call out ‘Sweeties, sweeties’ to the children luring them on a promise – when in fact it was a cage.”
“That scene frightened me as a child, and this prosecution frightens me as an adult, and I ask you to deliver not guilty verdicts on all the charges.”
Mr Nicholas accepted his client told officials at Coovagh of her plan to get a taxi to her mother’s house, overpower her and torture her with a knife, a screwdriver, and boiling water, before killing her – but he argued this was “all fantasy”.
He told the jury: “The threats to the mother, these were regular, there was nothing new in that, the witnesses said they had heard it all before, and it was a case of, ‘that’s just Barbie’”.
Ms Kardashian, who is diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder, had suffered significant trauma after being the victim of alleged abuse involving her parents, although no details of her alleged mistreatment were disclosed during the trial.
Mr Nicholas said: “She engages in deliberate shock behaviour to be deliberately provocative. She is in a locked space, she’s bored.”
Continuing his final address, he told the jury: “You may not like Ms Kardashian, but this is not the X Factor, and you must look at the evidence dispassionately.”
He asked the jury to ignore any unfavourable online commentary about the accused which, he said, was posted by “people with strong hostile views” about Ms Kardashian’s lifestyle choices.
He said Ms Kardashian had been an alleged victim of child sex abuse and was now a victim of online trolling, which was “a burden on an already burdened person”.
Ms Kardashian’s alleged threats to her mother and Mr Mannix were made March through to September 2020, however Mr Nicholas said it appeared Gardaí were only made aware of the situation in September 2020.
Mr Nicholas said that up until it was time for Ms Kardashian to leave the unit, there had been “an absence of alarm” among staff about her alleged threats.
After two hours and 29 minutes of deliberation the jury was sent home for the weekend and proceedings were adjourned to Monday morning.
Judge Tom O’Donnell told the jury members: “You are at a critical stage now, please do not discuss the matter with anyone outside of yourselves. Stay away from the internet. Your duty is to decide the case on the evidence you have heard. Let your minds rest and have a nice weekend whatever you’re going to be doing.”