A GARDA who discovered the battered body of a young man in a field had earlier asked a driver if he intended to bury someone, after spotting a new shovel in his car.
The driver is alleged to have been John Walsh (45) who, along with Gillian Purcell (34), denies the murder of John McManus two years ago.
Kerry-based garda Daniel O'Connor, yesterday told the Central Criminal Court how he spotted an Opel Astra parked in an isolated area at Ballyduff, off the Tralee to Ballybunion road, on November 6, 2008.
After asking the driver to open the boot, Garda O'Connor spotted what he thought was blood -- and a new shovel on the back seat. He joked as he asked the driver: "Were you planning to bury somebody with that?"
He said Walsh replied that the shovel was for use with his work in the building industry.
Several hours later, after returning to the Ballyduff site with some colleagues, the body of John McManus (25) was discovered. Garda O'Connor initially thought that the body was a bag of old clothes.
The garda said he first spotted the car when it was parked with no driver but a front-seat passenger, Gillian Purcell, who he did not know at the time.
As he approached the parked vehicle, he saw a man come out of some undergrowth and get into the car. The Opel drove off, despite the garda's attempts to signal for the vehicle to halt.
Having later stopped the car, the garda said he noted that the driver seemed "high on drugs".
Garda O'Connor said he spotted what appeared to be blood in the boot -- only to be told by John Walsh that it was left over from a fishing expedition.
The woman in the car initially gave her name as Ann-Marie Corcoran from Hollyhill, Cork. Garda O'Connor said he now knew the woman to be Gillian Purcell.
When the garda entered the details of the routine stop on the PULSE network, he was immediately contacted by Cork gardai, who were investigating the disappearance of John McManus on October 30/31.
Cork gardai discovered bloodstains and spatters in three rooms of Mr McManus's Verdon Place flat on November 4, after his family had become concerned for his well-being. Three of the young man's teeth were found in the hallway.
Both Mr Walsh and Ms Purcell formally deny the murder of John McManus at a date unknown between October 29 and November 7 2008 at flat one, 3 Verdon Place, Wellington Road, Cork.
Ms Purcell -- who is originally from Hollyhill in Cork -- has an address c/o the Simon Shelter, Anderson's Quay, Cork, while Mr Walsh is formerly of Carrigmore Park, Ballinlough, Cork. The trial continues today.