News Courts

Friday 29 August 2014

‘Body of mummified Maria found wrapped in binliners, court told

Teenager’s body was buried and wrapped in bin liners court hears on opening day of Alan Wilson’s trial

Andrew Phelan

Published 25/06/2014 | 12:45

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The body of murdered teenager Marioara Rostas appeared “mummified” when it was found buried and wrapped in bin liners and duct tape, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

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Marioara Rostas was found buried in a shallow grave in black bin liners and duct tape, the court has heard.

Ms Rostas, who had just turned 18 when she disappeared from a Dublin street, was found buried in a shallow grave in woodlands on the Wicklow border four years later.

The trial of Alan Wilson (35), who is charged with her murder, heard a post mortem examination showed she had died from gunshot wounds to the head.

Sean Gillane SC was opening the prosecution's case to the jury as the trial got underway this afternoon.

The accused, with an address at New Street Gardens, Dublin 8, has pleaded not guilty to murdering 18-year-old Ms Rostas at Brabazon Street, The Coombe between January 7 and 8, 2008. Her body was uncovered in the Kippure/ Sally Gap area on January 23, 2012.

Mr Gillane said the prosecution would allege that the killing happened at Mr Wilson’s sister’s home. It would be alleged her partner Fergus O’Hanlon told gardai the accused, holding a loaded firearm, showed him the corpse afterwards and said: “she was a witness.”

Mr Gillane told the jury Mr O’Hanlon, who had been a friend of Mr Wilson, also told gardai that he was brought by the accused to assist in the victim’s burial when a pre-prepared “bunker” could not be found.

The jury heard the defence would accept that Mr Wilson had owned a car that Ms Rostas was allegedly seen getting into on the day of her disappearance. The accused was not admitting that he drove it, however.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of 10 men and two women.

Mr Wilson has pleaded not guilty.

Outlining the chain of events, Mr Gillane said the accused came from Romania and her family's circumstances there were poor and limited. She arrived in December 2007 and began begging with her parents and younger brother.

They were begging around the Lombard Street/ Pearse Street junction on January 6, 2008 when her brother saw her talking to a man in a parked Ford Mondeo. They had limited English but words the brother recognised included the fast foot outlet McDonald's.

It was indicated that Ms Rostas was going to go there with the man for food. The brother noted a partial registration as the car drove off. Her parents arrived and they waited for several hours but Ms Rostas did not return.

Her family "never saw her alive again," Mr Gillane said.

Her father tried to report the disappearance to the gardai but could not make himself understood.

The next day, her older brother in Romania received a call from Ms Rostas in which she seemed "very, very upset and frightened." The conversation was brief and the call was cut off.

Another report was made to the gardai with an an interpreter and the investigation began. Despite appeals, no more was heard until two developments occurred: the victim's younger brother identified Mr Wilson's silver Ford Mondeo and said it was the car he had seen.

The second was the identification of the home of the accused's sister Maxine Wilson, which the prosecution described as being "of significance."

Mr Gillane said a fire had been deliberately set at the address in February 2008, causing serious damage. Despite this, a forensic examination revealed a firearm had been discharged in a bedroom and bullet holes were found in the wall.

At the end of 2011, a "hugely significant development" happened when Mr O'Hanlon, who had been in a relationship with Ms Wilson, indicated to gardai that he had information in relation to Ms Rostas' disappearance.

On January 16 2012, gardai conducting a "painstaking" search in the Kippure area found plywood sheets and scaffold planking covering an empty squared-off hole. Mr Gilliane indicated that it would be the prosecutions case “this was a ready-made grave or bunker”

On January 23, mechanical diggers stopped when they uncovered a piece of black plastic. Gardai continued with shovels, then their hands. When they suspected there was a body inside, the Assistant State Pathologist Dr Khalid Jabbar was called.

The body of a woman was found "secreted" in the plastic and DNA tests confirmed the victim's identity.

She had been wrapped in black plastic bin liners and clear plastic sheets which had been tightened with the use of duct tape. This had the effect of securing the body within "or mummifying her," Mr Gillane continued.

She was in her underwear and had a pillow case over her head and a knotted sheet around her legs. There were four gunshot wounds to her head.

Mr Gillane told the jury Mr O'Hanlon would say that on January 7, 2008, he was called to the address at Brabazon Street.

The accused had come downstairs with a firearm and said he "wanted to show him something."

The evidence would be that Mr Wilson showed Mr O'Hanlon the corpse and "made remarks to the effect that she was a witness."

Mr O'Hanlon would say he assisted as Ms Rostas' clothes were removed and she was wrapped in plastic. She was put in the back of a car and Mr O Hanlon was told to "get his jacket - come on."

Mr O'Hanlon would say they drove into the woods, then he followed on foot with a shovel while Mr Wilson carried the body, "looking round for the pre-prepared bunker."

It was not found and Mr O'Hanlon would say they instead dug a shallow grave; the body was rolled into it and "Mr Wilson used his foot to secure her."

The earth was filled over it and her belongings were burned.

It would be alleged that Mr O'Hanlon was told to help clean the room in Brabazon Street and the last words Mr Wilson said to him were: "you never saw what you saw."

Counsel for the defence said it would be admitted that Alan Wilson was the registered owner of the Mondeo but not that he was driving it at the time.

The trial continues.

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