Saturday 16 December 2017

Body in river killers weep as they get life for murder

Catherine O'Connor at court in Cork
Catherine O'Connor at court in Cork
Jonathan Duke's mother, Michelle, and daughter, Angel
Jonathan Duke was murdered in Bandon in 2011
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A WOMAN with 54 criminal convictions and her boyfriend were jailed for life for the murder of a young man whose bound and slashed body was found in a river.

Mother-of-three Catherine O'Connor (37), from Cork, and Ciprian Grozavu (39), a Romanian who has one child in Ireland, wept as they received life sentences for the murder of Jonathan 'Dukie' Duke (27) in 2011.

Three Central Criminal Court jurors also broke down as the Duke family said their brother and son was killed "in such a horrible, cruel and evil way" by people he thought were his friends.

Grozavu was convicted of murder following a three-week trial last month. O'Connor was convicted by unanimous jury verdict yesterday following her three-week trial. In both cases, the juries had deliberated for less than three hours.

O'Connor and Grozavu had denied Mr Duke's murder on November 13, 2011 at Bridge House, Bandon, Co Cork, where the two defendants lived.

Det Insp Joe Moore said gardai could not determine a motive for the killing.

When Gardai pulled Mr Duke's body from the River Bandon, an electrical flex was wrapped around his neck while his body had more than 100 wounds. Broken glass was protruding from some wounds.

Gardai called to the apartment complex that night after two other residents said they heard a row in the top-floor flat and were then horrified to see a body being dumped over a balcony.

Both men said they saw O'Connor and Grozavu dragging a body they believed to be that of Mr Duke down the stairs.

On arrival a few minutes later, gardai found a pool of blood outside the complex and Mr Duke's ATM card.

They followed a blood trail inside, up the stairs and across the landing to Flat 3 where the occupants were found to be O'Connor and Grozavu.

O'Connor was in her underwear with her hands and feet both soaked in blood. The blood was later found to be that of Mr Duke.

She was also aggressive and abusive towards gardai.

After her arrest, O'Connor was described as "laughing like a hyena" in Bandon garda station.


Grozavu had claimed the blood was from an assault he had suffered, but later admitted it was Mr Duke's.

A short time later, Mr Duke's bound body was recovered from the river a short distance from the apartment complex.

He died from mechanical strangulation with two ligatures, one a long electrical cable with the plug still attached, wrapped four times around his neck.

He had also suffered more than 100 blunt and sharp-force trauma injuries to his head, neck, chest, arms, legs and back.

One slash wound was several centimetres deep across his back. Gardai found broken glass stained with blood in a plastic bag in Grozavu and O'Connor's flat.

O'Connor insisted she had no recollection of what happened in the apartment after drinking up to four bottles of vodka and taking a cocktail of sedatives, painkillers and magic mushrooms.

Grozavu had blamed her when interviewed by gardai.

Mr Justice Paul Carney was told that O'Connor, a native of Kinsale, had 54 previous convictions including one for assault causing harm and five for common assault.

Grozavu, who has lived in Ireland for over a decade, has 11 previous convictions including one for harassment and one for possession of a knife.

Both received mandatory life sentences.

Irish Independent

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