Residents 'heard laughing' after murder victim thrown into river - court hears
TWO residents of an apartment complex heard loud laughing seconds after the State alleged the body of a strangled man was dragged down stairs and then 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).
The defendant, when arraigned, told the trial he was: "not guilty, your honour."
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 Bandon River, 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 that 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 that November evening.
The flat was overhead and occupied by Mr Grozavu.
"They heard a commotion - loud noises coming from No 3. They heard a number of matters occurring," he said.
"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 case that the body of Mr Duke had been dragged down the stairs, out the front door of Bridge House and then thrown into the River Bandon. The body fell around six metres into the river.
Mr O'Leary said evidence from Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster will indicate Mr Duke died from strangulation - and was effectively dead when his body entered the River Bandon.
He told the jury 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," he said.
"There was a large amount of sounds.
"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 the two young occupants of Apartment No 2 then looked out a window by the landing to see the front of the house.
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 was a co-accused of the defendant but has been convicted of Mr Duke's murder.
"She is not on trial here - it is irrelevant."
"Just because Ms O'Connor has been found guilty of this matter, well, you do not automatically say Mr Grozavu is guilty as well. Not at all. We (prosecution) have to prove the matter. We have to prove all the case - good, bad or indifferent."
Mr O'Leary said that, seconds before the occupants of Apartment No 2 fled Bridge House to raise the alarm, they heard "very loud laughing" from the stairwell as two people came back up the stairs.
When Gardaí arrived at the scene minutes later, they found blood marks all along the stairwell.
One Garda found the defendant and O'Connor near Apartment No 3.
"He will talk about his (Grozavu's) state," Mr O'Leary said.
The Garda knew Grozavu by his local nickname of 'Chippy.'
Mr Duke's body was recovered from the river by Gardaí and emergency services a short time later.
Grozavu appeared in court wearing a navy blue suit, white shirt and tie.
He did not speak during the hearing beyond acknowledging relatives from Romania who had travelled to Cork for the trial.
The trial is expected to last up to two weeks.