Woman cleared of destroying evidence at murder scene
A WEXFORD woman has been acquitted of impeding the inquiry into the murder of 30-year-old Rebecca French.
The mother of two was savagely kicked and beaten to death with golf clubs by four men at a house in Ard na Dara, Clonard, Wexford, on October 9, 2009.
Her charred body was found shortly afterwards tied up in the boot of her burning car a few kilometres away at Codd's Lane.
Helen Connors (27), of Belvedere Grove in Wexford, has been found not guilty of disposing of or attempting to destroy evidence with the intention of impeding the prosecution of the killers.
It took the jury of nine men and three women a little over an hour to deliver their unanimous verdict at the Central Criminal Court.
Earlier, the court heard that Helen Connors told gardai how she had briefly held the dying woman's hand before cleaning up a large quantity of blood and burning other evidence at the scene, under instructions from the four men, while they went to dispose of Rebecca French's body.
In tearful interviews with gardai, Connors said she hadn't left the house while the men were gone because she was afraid she would be killed.
"If they had spotted me on the road, I would have been killed. They know where I live. I was on my hands and knees trying to get the blood up, praying to God I wouldn't be killed when they got back," she said.
In her closing speech, prosecuting counsel Ms Una Ni Rafertaigh BL claimed Connors could have fled the house during a period of at least 30 minutes while the men were gone.
She asked whether someone in fear of their life would "wait for them to come back and hope for the best" or whether their survival instinct would kick in and they would "leg it".
Mr Giollaiosa O Lidheadha SC, defending, told the jury that Rebecca French had been murdered for the "nasty, evil purpose" of stopping her from going to the guards to complain about being beaten.
Earlier, the court heard how Connors told gardai that the men had held her arms and forced her to deliver "two poxy little kicks" to Rebecca's ribs.
The jury were shown the two golf clubs used by Patrick O'Connor, Ricardus Dilys, Ruslanas Mineikas and Piotr Pasiak to smash Ms French's skull and break five ribs. The court heard how the men had put on latex gloves before the attack and changed gloves several times during the killing spree, ordering Connors each time to get fresh gloves and throw the ripped pair into the fire.
Mr Justice Paul Carney thanked the jury and excused them from further jury duty for the rest of their lives.