Courts

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Robert Corbet gets life in jail after being found guilty of murdering nanny Aoife Phelan

Published 23/05/2014|16:38

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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

A 25-year-old man has been sentenced to life in prison after he was found guilty of the murder of nanny Aoife Phelan.

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Robert Corbet (25) of Capoley / Sheffield Cross, Portlaoise, Co Laois, had 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 there, 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 that she was pregnant with his child. Mr Corbet testified that he had his doubts and questioned her about the pregnancy on the evening of October 25.

He said she threatened to ruin his life if he didn’t face up to the pregnancy. He said he lost self control and strangled her in his shed and put her body in a barrel. He buried it behind his house the following day and flew to New York to visit his former girlfriend.

A post-mortem exam showed that Ms Phelan died of asphyxia due to strangulation, with blunt force trauma a contributory factor. She was not pregnant.

The defence has asked for a verdict of manslaughter by reason of provocation arising out of Ms Phelan’s alleged threats. Mr Corbet’s barrister has asked the jury to ignore the desecration of her body and concentrate on the moment she was killed.

However the prosecution has said that there was no provocation and described the accused man’s actions as calculated.

Isobel Kennedy SC noted that he had recalled exactly what he had done to her, including strangling her, striking her, putting cable ties around her neck and a bag around her head.

She described these as deliberate and calculated acts.

The jury began considering its verdict yesterday and was sent home after an hour and a half after of deliberations.

This morning, the foreman asked Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan to repeat the definitions of murder, manslaughter and provocation.

The nine men and three women resumed their deliberations this morning and had been asked to reach a unanimous verdict.

The verdict of murder carries an automatic life sentence.

Irish Independent

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