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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Alan Wilson found not guilty of the murder of Marioara Rostas

Andrew Phelan

Published 31/07/2014 | 15:35

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The body of Marioara Rostas (inset) being removed from the Dublin Mountains in 2012
The body of Marioara Rostas (inset) being removed from the Dublin Mountains in 2012

ALAN Wilson has been found not guilty of murdering Romanian teenager Marioara Rostas.

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Wilson (35) was acquitted today of killing the 18-year-old, whose body was found in a shallow grave in the Dublin mountains in 2008 -  four years after she went missing while begging on a city street.

A jury at the Central Criminal Court returned a not guilty verdict after deliberating for just under three hours.

Wilson, who had denied killing Marioara during a six-week trial, showed no emotion as the verdict was delivered to a hushed courtroom.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy thanked the 10 men and two women of the jury for their service during what had been a “difficult” trial.

He exempted them from further jury service for another 10 years.

After the verdict, Wilson, wearing a grey open-necked shirt, picked up a blue folder he had with him, stood and left the court without speaking.

He was returned to custody as he is serving a seven year sentence for an unrelated crime - attacking a man with a meat cleaver after breaking into his home.

Members of Marioara’s family who were present in court, including her father Dumitru, did not react to the verdict and spoke with an interpreter outside afterwards.

Wilson, of New Street Gardens, Dublin 8, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Marioara at Brabazon Street, The Coombe, between January 7 and 8, 2008.

She had been begging with her brother in Dublin city centre on January 6 that year. Her brother saw her get into a car which was driven off and her family never saw her again.

Marioara’s body was found buried in a shallow grave in the Dublin mountains four years later. She was “mummified” in plastic sheeting and had died of four bullet wounds to her head.

During the six-week trial, Wilson’s former friend Fergus O’Hanlon gave evdience of helping to bury Marioara’s body after her murder.

However, Mr Justice McCarthy had warned it would be dangerous to convict on the basis of his uncorroborated evidence.

The jury had heard how Marioara’s younger brother Dumitru, who was 13 years old at the time, was begging with his sister at the junction of Lombard Street and Pearse Street 18 days after her arrival in Ireland. He saw her get into a Ford Mondeo with a man who said he was bringing her to McDonald’s for food. The man gave him €10 and drove off with his sister.

She managed to make one panicked phone call to Romania asking for her “daddy to come and get her” but was never seen alive again.

Wilson and his friend, Fergus O'Hanlon, were arrested in October that year  and questioned about the murder but no progress was made in the investigation until late 2011. O'Hanlon, a convicted criminal, kept his silence for four years, before coming forward, making a statement against Wilson and showing gardai where Marioara was buried.

O'Hanlon, who has immunity from prosecution, claimed he arrived home on January 8th 2008 to find the girl dead in his house and Mr Wilson with a gun in his hand. He alleged Wilson told him she had been a “witness to her brother being killed.”

He told the jury he felt sick but helped Wilson strip the body, which was folded into a bag and brought in the boot of Wilson’s car to the mountains. He claimed he then helped Wilson bury the body and later cleaned up the house at Brabazon Street.

Wilson did not give evidence during the trial but his defence maintained O’Hanlon was a “compulsive liar” who had given the jury a “masterclass in perjury.”

O’Hanlon admitted he had initially lied to gardai when they questioned him about Marioara’s murder but insisted in evidence that his account of what happened was true.

Sean Gillane SC, for the prosecution, accepted that their case relied entirely on his testimony and the jury members were told they could accept some, all, or none of his evidence.

He said that, given the context, the evidence was “never going to come from an altar boy.”

Michael O'Higgins SC , defending, told the jury O’Hanlon he had come forward with information only when being questioned about another crime.

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