Wednesday 21 February 2018

'It felt like an out-of-body experience - It was a loss of self control. I just couldn’t stop' - murder accused

Robert Corbet being led into court earlier this week, inset left, Mr Corbet, inset right Aoife Phelan
Robert Corbet being led into court earlier this week, inset left, Mr Corbet, inset right Aoife Phelan
The parents of Aoife Phelan, Michael (second right) and Betty (right), at court yesterday. Photo: Courtpix
Robert Corbet
Aoife Phelan
Missing woman Aoife Phelan
Aoife Phelan was found dead in 2012

Natasha Reid

A 25-year-old man has told his murder trial that he lost self control and couldn’t stop gripping Aoife Phelan around her neck after she threatened to ruin his life.

Robert Corbet was giving evidence to the Central Criminal Court, where he is on trial charged with the murder of the 30-year-old Nanny in 2012.

Mr Corbet of Capoley, Sheffield Cross, Laois has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Phelan at Capoley. However he has admitted her manslaughter between October 25th and November 7th, when gardai found her body in a barrel buried there.

The trial had heard that they had met a few months earlier and that she had soon told him that she was pregnant with his child. However, he had his doubts and an autopsy showed that she had never been pregnant.

Mr Corbet testified this morning that he was in his garage with Ms Phelan on the evening of October 25th.

“I asked her straight out about the pregnancy and an argument broke out,” he said. “She said: ‘Who was I to ask such questions,”.

“I said I was entitled to ask questions like this if I was the so-called father,” he continued. “She started making threats that she’d ruin my life and my business if I didn’t face up to what would be a pregnancy.”

He said she was referring to the haulage business that his late father had built.

“I was actually afraid,” he said. “I just saw red and the incident itself happened.”

He said that Ms Phelan was speaking quite aggressively and in a very harsh tone.

“It was like a protective instinct went off in me,” he continued. “To hear someone threaten everything you worked for, everything you are, I just snapped.”

He said he caught her around her neck with his right forearm, they fell to the ground and he kept his grip.

“I released it at one stage. I hit her on the back of her head and then I resumed my grip around her neck,” he said.

“It felt like an out-of-body experience,” he said. “It was a loss of self control. I just couldn’t stop.”

The accused continues his evidence this afternoon before Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan and a jury of nine men and three women.

Irish Independent

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