Tuesday 12 December 2017

Aoife Phelan death: Accused Robert Corbet took gardai on ‘a wild goose chase’

He took officers on a journey to lead them away from his family home where the body was buried, court hears

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
The parents of Aoife Phelan, Michael (second right) and Betty (right), at court yesterday. Photo: Courtpix
Aoife Phelan was found dead in 2012
Robert Corbet is led into court during an earlier appearance related to the charge of murdering Aoife Phelan

Natasha Reid

A MURDER trial has heard that the accused man took gardai on ‘a wild goose chase’ when he pointed out where he said he had killed a Laois nanny.

The defence made the comment this morning when cross examining one of the gardai who accompanied the accused to what he said were the scenes of the crime.

Detective Sergeant Brian Hanley of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation was giving evidence in the trial of Robert Corbet, who is charged with the 30-year-old’s murder.

The 25-year-old from Sheffield Cross, Laois has pleaded not guilty to her murder. However he has admitted her manslaughter between October 25th and November 7th, when her body was found in a barrel, buried in Capoley, near Portlaoise.

The Central Criminal Court trial has already heard that Mr Corbet was arrested on suspicion of murder on November 5th. He first denied involvement but began to make admissions after phone records were put to him.

He said she had told him she was pregnant with his child and said he killed her in his jeep after she threatened to ruin him if he walked away.

On November 6th, the accused agreed to accompany gardai to locations where he said he had killed her and disposed of her body.

D Sgt Hanley testified that he showed them where he had collected Ms Phelan and where he had later pulled in to a hard shoulder.

He told them that this was where ‘the incident’ happened.

“Which is?” he was asked.

“The murder of Aoife Phelan,” he replied.

The detective agreed with Conor Devally SC, defending, that this had been ‘a voyage of fiction’.

“It’s acknowledged that this was a while goose chase,” said the barrister. “We know Ms Phelan met her end on the lands or property of the Corbet family.”

The detective agreed that the effect of the journey had been to lead them away from his family home.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan.

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