THE suspect for the rape and murder of a 12-year-old schoolgirl in Dublin today admitted the violent crime.
Jonathan Byrne (20) pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting and strangling Michaela Davis in a field near her home in Porterstown, West Dublin.
Byrne was remanded in custody at the Central Criminal Court for sentencing next month. Murder carries a life sentence.
Michaela was raped, beaten and strangled before her body was dumped beside the Royal Canal on August 28, 2010.
The accused, wearing a black suit, white shirt and black and white striped tie, and with a shaven head, today addressed the packed courtroom only to reply “guilty” to each of the three charges against him.
A member of the murdered girl’s family was briefly taken into custody after he shouted: “You are a bastard” across the courtroom.
Michaela's parents and a large group of friends and family were present as Byrne entered his guilty pleas.
As his case was called, the court registrar read out each charge to the accused.
The first was that he murdered Michaela Davis at the playing field on Porterstown Road, Clonsilla, on August 28, 2010. Byrne, from Lahunda Downs, Clonsilla, replied “guilty” to the charge.
He then pleaded guilty to raping her on the same date and in the same place, as well as a further sexual offence under Section 4 of the Rape Act.
Counsel for the defence told the court that the prosecution had “some evidence” and there was victim impact evidence that he wanted to see before the matter was dealt with.
Mr Justice Paul Carney adjourned the case to December 12 and remanded Byrne in custody.
As the brief hearing concluded, an uncle of Michaela shouted across to Byrne: “You are a bastard, you are a bastard.”
The judge then instructed the gardai to place the man in custody until the court's morning list was dealt with.
Michaela had just started secondary school at Luttrellstown Community College – and the popular child had a bright future ahead of her which was cut short in brutal fashion.
Her parents had reported her missing at 2am on Saturday, August 29. Her body was discovered at around 4pm in undergrowth by the Royal Canal.
Michaela had been raped, beaten and strangled before her body was dumped in thick undergrowth beside the canal.
Her body was found less than a kilometre from her home by an elderly man out walking his dog.
He saw a leg sticking out of bushes on a steep bank between the rail line and a walkway along the canal.
The schoolgirl had spent the day before her murder with friends and then went home. At midnight, she told her parents she was going out on her bicycle and would be back soon.
It is understood she had arranged to meet Byrne. When she failed to return home her parents raised the alarm.
In the aftermath of their beloved daughter's murder, Brendan and Deirdre Davis said her death was a “needless, awful tragedy” and insisted the family was always there for one another.
“This is a heart-wrenching situation,” the distraught parents said.
In another statement, the Davis family explained: “All Michaela's friends are heartbroken at the moment and cannot get their heads around this tragedy, no more than the rest of the extended family and friends. “The needless loss of a young child, the awful tragedy of a girl barely beginning life.
“This situation is not and never will be about the crime or the perpetrator.
“It's about Michaela, and the realisation of a parent's worst fear to lose a child so full of life.”
The principal of the primary school which Michaela attended said she was a “lovely child who had so much to give and to live for”.
In the aftermath of the murder, Terry Allen, head of St Mochta's National School, said the thoughts and prayers of the whole school community were with Michaela's family at this “very sad and upsetting time”.
Sick killer/rapist Jonathan Byrne has been in custody since gardai arrested him for the murder.
Jail sources say that he has been in protective custody because of fears that he would be attacked by other inmates due to the depraved nature of his crime.
Byrne was previously attacked by other prisoners at a remand hearing in Cloverhill District Court in September, 2010.
Byrne is now facing a mandatory life sentence for murder when he is sentenced next month.