Thursday 19 September 2019

Murder accused was 'howling like a dog', court told

Jonathan Duke’s body was found in the River Bandon
Jonathan Duke’s body was found in the River Bandon

Ralph Riegel

Residents of an apartment complex claimed a murder accused was "howling like a dog" as well as laughing as the body of a strangled father of one was thrown into a river.

The claim came at the opening of a Central Criminal Court trial in Cork, where Romanian national Ciprian Grozavu (44) denies the murder of Jonathan 'Dukie' Duke (27).

Mr Grozavu denies the murder of Mr Duke at Bridge House, Sean Hales Place, Bandon, Co Cork, on November 13 2011. The Romanian, whose nickname is 'Chippy', had been living at Bridge House in the west Cork town, which overlooks the River Bandon, in November 2011.

Tim O'Leary SC, for the State, outlined the prosecution case to Ms Justice Tara Burns and the jury of eight men and three women. He warned the jury aspects of the case would be "gruesome".

Mr O'Leary said two men living in Apartment No 2 at Bridge House, Aaron Nolan and Shane O'Driscoll, heard loud noises coming from Apartment No 3 which was occupied by Mr Grozavu.

"They heard a commotion -loud noises coming from No 3. It got to the stage where they (the residents of No 2) came out to see what was happening on the landing."

Mr O'Leary said it is the State's case that the body of Mr Duke had been dragged down the stairs, out the front door and then thrown into the river.

Evidence from Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster will indicate Mr Duke died from strangulation - and he was effectively dead when his body entered the water.

Gardaí found the body of Mr Duke underneath Bandon Bridge, a short distance downstream from Bridge House in the River Bandon.

"They (the residents of No 2) were effectively listening to what went on. They heard what was happening... a bumping sound.

"They heard something that could have been something being brought downstairs. (You may) infer it was the body being dragged down stairs to the front of the house," Mr O'Leary said.

It is the State case that the defendant was at the front of the house accompanied by his on-off girlfriend, Catherine O'Connor. Mr O'Leary told the jury O'Connor has been convicted of Mr Duke's murder.

Mr Nolan told the trial he knew something was wrong.

"We were looking out the window - Chippy and Catherine. He had the top part and she had the legs. They literally threw him over the railings. When they came back in (to the apartment complex) they were shouting and cheering like an animal."

Mr O'Driscoll said he was sure about what he saw.

"I saw both Catherine and Chippy lift that body over the railing - 100pc it was Jonathan Duke. I knew the runners on his feet. What he was wearing. They lifted the body and threw it in over that (railing). I (then) heard screaming and roaring... howling like a dog. That is exactly what he was doing."

Gardaí arrived and found blood marks in the stairwell.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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