Monday 23 April 2018

Bullet evidence ‘inconclusive’, Marioara murder trial told

Andrew Phelan

TESTS comparing the bullets left in murdered teenager Marioara Rostas' head and those found at the house where she was allegedly killed were "inconclusive," the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Fragments of the four bullets removed from Marioara's remains were shown to the jury in the trial of Alan Wilson (35) at the Central Criminal Court this afternoon.

They were produced in evidence as the court heard of forensic examinations carried out at the alleged murder scene at a house in Brabazon Street, and the site where Marioara (18) was found buried in the Dublin/Wicklow mountains.

Mr Wilson, of New Street Gardens, Dublin 8, has pleaded not guilty to her murder at Brabazon Street, The Coombe, between January 7 and 8, 2008.

Her body was found in a shallow grave in woods in the Kippure-Sally Gap area on January 23, 2012.

Detective Garda Brian Barry told the jury the empty bunker that was initially found during the search on January 16 that year measured 5 feet long by 2 feet three inches wide and three and a half feet deep. It was covered by a timber board and three six-foot lengths of scaffold board.

As the search continued on January 23, he noticed a piece of black plastic and told the digger operators to stop.

The manual digging continued with the use of small shovels and "by hand literally" to expose "what was uncovered - the outline of the deceased covered in black plastic."

The body was wrapped in eight black bin liners, one clear piece of plastic and duct tape.

Her legs were pulled up toward her and her head and arms were tucked in. Her legs were wrapped in a Dunnes Stores bed sheet and a pillow case was over her head. She was in a bra and underwear.

A number of pieces of .22-calibre lead bullet fragments were recovered from her head. The bullets, in a plastic evidence bag, were produced in court and handed to an exhibits officer. They were extensively damaged but consistent with having been fired from a .22-calibre firearm, Det Gda Barry said.

Mr O'Higgins put it to him that these bullets had "nothing to do with" those found at Brabazon Street.

"They were examined and compared with inconclusive results," Det Gda Barry replied.

Detective Garda Fionnan Lynch said he assisted with the removal of the body, which was transported to the mortuary at Tallaght Hospital.

He said the plastic bags and tape were tested for finger of palm prints but this proved negative.

Garda Daniel McCarthy said he examined the house at Brabazon Street immediately after a fire on February 29, 2008 and found that there appeared to be "quite a few different seats of fire at different levels."

The house contained charred furniture and on examination, he said there was "a probability that an accelerant could have been used."

On the top floor, the burnt remains of a petrol cannister was found and he could smell petrol fumes. He agreed with Mr O'Higgins that there did not appear to be any personal effects in the house other than the original furniture.

Mr O'Higgins said the property had been rented out to Fergus O'Hanlon and the accused's sister, Maxine Wilson.

Detective Inspector Michael Cryan said he made the decision to have the address forensically examined a second time and this commenced on October 30.

Earlier, the jury heard Marioara arrived in Ireland just 18 days before she went missing while begging on a city street.

Her father, Dumitru Rostas told the court he last saw his daughter when he left her begging at a junction to get food in the afternoon of January 6, 2008.

Led through his evidence by prosecutor Sean Gillane, and speaking through a Romanian interpreter, Mr Rostas said he came to Ireland with his wife and son in 2007, and Marioara followed on December 19 that year.

He said they had taken to begging in the Lombard Street/ Pearse Street area of Dublin and he left to get food at around 2pm.

When he returned, Marioara was not there and he waited for around three hours. When it got dark, he went to a garda station to get help but could not make himself understood.

He went back to Donabate, where he was living, and his daughter was not there either. The next day, he learned that Marioara had made a phone call. The court heard there was a number for a phone in Romania available to the family, including Marioara.

The day after that, Mr Rostas got an interpreter and returned to the gardai to tell them his daughter was missing, and about the phone call.

He provided her birth certificate and said she was wearing white runners, blue jeans, a hoodie and scarf when he last saw her.

The jury was also shown photographic evidence of a bullet retrieved from a hole in the wall at the house where Marioara is alleged to have been killed.

The photograph was one of several taken at the address on Brabazon Street during a forensic examination by gardai in late 2008 - 10 months after Marioara disappeared.

However, the jury heard the bullet hole was found in a living room on a floor below the bedroom where the prosecution alleges Ms Rostas was killed.

"Points of interest" on the photographs included an area of stripped-back wallpaper in the first floor living room, showing a hole in the wall, just under five feet from the ground.

There was also a photo of a bullet recovered from the hole.

Cross-examined by Mr O'Higgins, the garda accepted that the accused was alleged to have been murdered in a room on the second floor.

Mr O'Higgins said the photographs suggested a bullet was fired into the first floor living room wall.

"This is not the room where Ms Rostas was allegedly killed," he said.

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

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