Thursday 25 December 2014

Witness in Marioara trial 'trying to do the right thing', court told

Eimear Cotter

Published 24/07/2014 | 13:03

Marioara Rostas

A PROSECUTION witness in the Alan Wilson murder trial told an officer in the Witness Protection Programme that he was not looking for anything and was just trying to "do the right thing", a court heard.

The Central Criminal Court heard this morning that Fergus O'Hanlon (37) met with a garda from the Witness Protection Programme in June 2013, wishing to clarify his future after the trial concluded.

At the time, the trial was due to begin in November 2013.

The jury previously heard that Mr O’Hanlon, a convicted criminal, was granted immunity from prosecution but the certificate did not issue from the DPP until two days into the trial.

Mr Wilson (35), of New Street Gardens, Dublin 8, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Romanian teenager Marioara Rostas at Brabazon Street, The Coombe, between January 7 and 8, 2008.

She went missing while begging in traffic in Dublin city centre on January 6 that year and her body was found in a shallow grave in woods on the Dublin/Wicklow border on January 23, 2012.

Mr O’Hanlon, a former friend of the accused, has alleged that when he returned to his home on January 8, 2008, Mr Wilson showed him Marioara’s dead body. He has alleged he then helped Mr Wilson dispose of her remains.

A garda from the Witness Protection Programme told the jury this morning that he met Mr O'Hanlon on June 5, 2013 because he was anxious to know about his future after the trial.

The garda said he found Mr O'Hanlon to be "calm", "polite" and in "reasonably good form".

The court heard the garda told Mr O'Hanlon that under the protection programme he would be placed in "a like for like" situation.

The garda said; "Mr O'Hanlon is on social welfare and living in social housing so it was explained he would be provided with a like for like situation".

Michael O'Higgins SC, for the defence, said the "calm, Zen-like individual" described by the garda did not fit with what "we've seen here".

The garda said he met Mr O'Hanlon on a number of occasions and he never had an argument or words with him.

He said he took notes of the June 2013 meeting with Mr O'Hanlon and he later wrote up a full account of it.

The garda said Mr O'Hanlon told him he understood the terms of the Witness Protection Programme, and said to him that giving evidence was "not about getting anything" and he was only trying "to do the right thing".

Earlier on Thursday morning, Inspector Michael Cryan told the Central Criminal Court that Mr Wilson was arrested on suspicion of murder in November 2008, was detained under the normal provisions and was later released. He was re-arrested in March 2012 after new evidence was received by gardai.

Insp Cryan said Mr Wilson was charged with murder on April 5, 2012 and in reply after caution he said "I didn't do this".

A statement was also read into evidence from Garda Tom Canavan, who said he stopped Alan Wilson driving in a bus lane at Bachelor's Walk, Dublin 1, on February 9, 2008.

The court heard that Gda Canavan said he issued a fixed charge penalty notice to Mr Wilson, and the fine was paid.

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

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