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Tuesday 30 September 2014

Marioara's parents distraught as criminal cleared of murder

Nicola Anderson and Louise Hogan

Published 01/08/2014 | 02:30

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Dumitru and Marioara Rostas, parents of murdered Romanian girl Marioara
Marioara Rostas

THE family of Marioara Rostas told how the image of her bones in a shallow grave haunts them to this day, as a 35-year-old Dublin criminal was found not guilty of her murder.

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The 18-year-old girl died of four gunshot wounds to her head before her body was buried in the Dublin Mountains, where it was discovered four years later.

Alan Wilson, a father-of-four from New Street Gardens in the city, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Rostas at Brabazon Street, The Coombe, Dublin between January 7 and January 8, 2008.

The family waited agonisingly for two hours and 53 minutes as the jury deliberated yesterday before reaching a unanimous verdict of not guilty of murder.

Wilson showed no reaction to the verdict before he was then returned to prison to finish serving a seven-year sentence for a meat cleaver attack.

The victim's father, Dumitru Rosta, and relatives filed out of the Central Criminal Court to speak to an interpreter and gardai, with questions remaining as nobody stands convicted of their child's murder.

"There is a sadness, a pain deep down in our souls that we cannot get rid of. We will never forget," he said.

He described a sight that no parent should ever have to face, the image of the bones and mummified remains of his daughter.

Marioara's brother Dumitru Rostas was with her when she disappeared in Dublin city centre and said he is now "sad all the time".

Asked how he has been since his sister's disappearance, he replied: "How could I be? As her brother, I am sad all the time.

"We grew up together at home and she is no longer here, It's really difficult ... it's hard ... I remember her but it's very difficult ... what can I do? This is it".

painful

Speaking to RTE's Prime Time, he said he has "a dreadful pain deep down" in his soul for the rest of his life.

"My sister and I were together at the roundabout to beg and in two seconds she was no longer there and she doesn't exist any longer. A pain for me. It's very painful," he said.

Marioara's mother, whose name is also Marioara, said her heart aches for her daughter.

"Yes my heart is in pain for life. My heart aches for my family, for my girl who was killed. I am sad together with my whole family and with all my children as long as I will live," she said.

"My heart aches when I cook and I see she is no longer here with us at the dinner table, never again in the family, and my children also cry after her and their heart aches, she was my good daughter."

The dead teen's father Dumitru spoke about how she came to be in Ireland.

"She didn't come with me. I first came with my son and my wife. I arrived in October, 12th of October, and I also stayed in November and on 19th of December my daughter came here together with one of my aunts, the one who passed away," he said.

"She also came for begging because I thought that if we were here with more from the family for begging, we would get more money.

"I thought that we could have money for the family. They were begging there at the traffic lights and she disappeared."

Mr Rostas said: "I do not condemn all the Irish people, because these people didn't do me anything wrong.

"When I came to beg, people helped us and they gave us money so I don't condemn all the people in Ireland.

"I condemn the criminal who killed my daughter without doing anything wrong to him. She didn't know him and I'm sorry that if I knew this was going to happen, I would have never come. I would have rather died at home than to come to Ireland if I knew that my daughter was going to be killed here."

He described how the image of his daughter's remains haunts him to this day.

In 2012, she was found lying in a foetal position in a shallow grave. She was mummified in a lot of plastic tightened by duct tape. There was a pillowcase over her head and a knotted sheet wrapped around her legs.

The cause of her death was four gunshot wounds to her head.

The five-week trial at the Central Criminal Court heard that the victim was an ethnic Roma from very poor circumstances in Romania.

Mummified

She moved to Ireland at the end of 2007 and began begging with her parents and younger brother on the streets of Dublin.

On January 6, 2008, just a fortnight after her arrival here, the family was begging at the junction of Lombard Street and Pearse Street behind Trinity College.

Her younger brother, Dumitru jnr, testified that he saw her talking to a man in a car. This man told the then 13-year-old boy that he would take Marioara to McDonald's for food. The family never saw her alive again.

However, a very upset and frightened Mariora rang her older brother Alexandru in Romania the following day and cried for her 'Daddy to come get me'.

He said she told him she was out of town and began to read the letters from a street sign, but the phone was cut off.

The investigation led to the examination of a house on Brabazon Street. This had been the home of Alan Wilson's sister, Maxine Wilson, and her partner, Fergus O'Hanlon, who was the accused man's friend at the time. The house had been set on fire that February but two rounds of ammunition and a number of bullet holes were still found in a wall there, along with a lock on the outside of a bedroom door.

Dumitru also identified the silver Ford Mondeo in which he last saw his sister. The accused admitted owning this car, but denied driving it at the time.

Both Wilson and O'Hanlon, a convicted criminal, were arrested in October 2008 and questioned about the murder, but no more progress was made in the investigation until late 2011.

Then, while being questioned about another crime, O'Hanlon offered gardai information on the case and in January 2012 led them to Kippure, a mountainous area on the Wicklow border.

Gardai first found an empty ready-made grave or bunker, but later found the teenager's body in the shallow grave.

O'Hanlon was then admitted into the Witness Protection Programme, was later granted immunity from prosecution and became the State's main witness in the trial.

He testified that on January 8 2008, he got a call to go home. He said Alan Wilson came downstairs holding a firearm and showed him a dead girl.

O'Hanlon said that they drove up the mountains to Kippure, where he said Wilson looked around for the bunker. He couldn't find it and the two of them then dug the shallow grave and buried her.

However, O'Hanlon was the subject of a number of days of robust cross-examination by defence counsel Michael O'Higgins SC. Mr O'Higgins questioned his motives, noting that he had previously told gardai he hated Wilson.

The barrister also questioned his attitude to women, noting that he had previously been accused of breaking an ex-girlfriend's ribs and that the father of another ex-girlfriend had reported him to gardai for allegedly holding that girl against her will.

Mr O'Higgins showed the jury a photofit prepared from the description given of the driver of the Mondeo. O'Hanlon denied that it looked very much like him. He said he had refused to participate in a formal ID parade.

O'Hanlon agreed that he sometimes drove Wilson's Mondeo but denied driving it that day. Mr O'Higgins told the jury that it had got 'a master class in perjury' from him.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy warned the jury that O'Hanlon was an accomplice and a beneficiary of the Witness Protection Programme.

He informed them that it would be dangerous to convict on the basis of his uncorroborated evidence.

Irish Independent

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