Friday 23 March 2018

Two found guilty of murder in 'horrible and cruel Cork death'

Catherine O'Connor
Catherine O'Connor
Jonathan Duke
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A MOTHER of three and a Romanian father of one were jailed for life today for the murder of a young man whose bound and strangled body was recovered from a west Cork river.

When Gardai pulled the body of Jonathon 'Dukie' Duke (27) from the River Bandon, an electrical flex with the plug still attached was wrapped four times around his neck while his body had over 100 different wounds.

Bits of broken glass were protruding from some of his wounds.

Catherine O'Connor (37) and Ciprian Grozavu (39) were both convicted of Mr Duke's murder following separate Central Criminal Court trials.

Mr Justice Paul Carney imposed mandatory life sentences today after the two juries convicted both by unanimous verdicts of the murder.

Both had denied the murder of Mr Duke at Bridge House, Sean Hales Place, Bandon, Co Cork on November 13 2011.

Gardai called to the apartment complex that night after two other residents said they heard a row in Flat 3 overhead and then saw a body being dumped over a balcony.

Both had then fled the apartment complex to ring gardai.

On arrival, gardai found a pool of blood outside the complex and Mr Duke's ATM card.

They followed a blood trail inside, up the stairs and across the landing to Flat 3 where the occupants were found to be O'Connor and Grozavu.

O'Connor was found in her underwear with her hands and feet soaked in blood.

The blood was later found to be that of Mr Duke.

She was also aggressive and abusive towards gardai.

Grozavu had initially claimed the blood was from an assault he had suffered but he later admitted that the blood was from Mr Duke.

Three jury members broke down and wept today as Mr Duke's sister, Cindy, delivered a moving victim impact statement.

"We will never forget and we will never forgive," she said.

Ms Duke said that her brother had endured "a horrible and cruel death" from people he had thought were his friends.

She described him as "the big baby" of their family and said they mourned his loss every single day.

Both Grozavu and O'Connor wept as Ms Duke concluded her statement.

Mr Duke died from mechanical strangulation with two ligatures, one a long electrical cable with the plug still attached, wrapped four times around his neck.

He had also suffered over 100 blunt and sharp force trauma injuries with broken glass still protruding from one of his head wounds.

O’Connor and Grozavu, both of Bridge House, Sean Hales Place, Bandon, Co Cork denied the murder at the Bandon apartment complex.

O'Connor insisted she had no recollection of what happened in the apartment complex after drinking up to four bottles of vodka and consuming a cocktail of sedatives, painkillers and magic mushrooms.

A GP who examined O’Connor in Bandon Garda Station hours after her arrest said she was “laughing hysterically.”

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