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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Aoife death trial jury are told to ignore body desecration

Natasha Reid

Published 23/05/2014 | 02:30

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Robert Corbet  being led into court, inset left, Mr Corbet, inset right Aoife Phelan
Robert Corbet being led into court, inset left, Mr Corbet, inset right Aoife Phelan
Aoife Phelan was found dead in 2012
Aoife Phelan was found dead in 2012

THE jury deliberating in the trial of a man charged with murdering nanny Aoife Phelan, has been told to ignore the desecration of her body and concentrate on the moment she was killed.

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Robert Corbet (25) of Capoley, Sheffield Cross, Portlaoise, Co Laois, has pleaded not guilty to murdering the 30-year-old in his garage at Capoley. However, he has admitted her manslaughter between October 25 and November 7, when her body was found in a barrel buried 10 feet below ground.

The Central Criminal Court trial has heard that they had met a few months earlier and that she had told him she was pregnant with his child. An autopsy has since shown that Ms Phelan was not pregnant.

Mr Corbet testified on Wednesday that he had his doubts about the pregnancy and questioned her about it on the evening of October 25.

He said they argued and that she threatened to ruin his life. He said he lost control and strangled her in his shed. He then put her body in a barrel, buried it behind his house the following day and flew to New York to visit his ex-girlfriend.

His barrister asked the jury to ignore the desecration of her body and concentrate on the moment she was killed.

Ugly

Conor Devally, defending, said the jurors had to consider if it was "reasonably possible" that he had totally lost self-control. If so, a verdict of manslaughter was open to them, he said in his closing speech.

"The act is so ugly," he said of what his client had done with her body.

However, he described it as an irrelevance.

"You just have to consider what happened in that moment," he said.

He asked the jury to acquit Mr Corbet of murder and find him guilty of manslaughter on the grounds of provocation.

However Isobel Kennedy, prosecuting, said that there was no provocation and described the accused man's actions as calculated.

She recalled his description of strangling her with his forearm, then both hands. She noted that he had recalled striking her and she made no sound.

"He goes to get the cable ties. He goes back to Aoife Phelan, puts one around her neck to be sure she's dead," said counsel.

"This was a man entirely in control. His acts were deliberate and calculated," she said.

The jurors will resume their deliberations this morning.

Irish Independent

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