A COUNTRY'S society can be judged by how it treats the most vulnerable in it.
The sad tale of Marioara Rostas (below) is a case in point.
This vulnerable young woman was taken off a city street in winter, murdered and dumped in a lonely grave in the Dublin mountains.
Despite sterling work from investigating gardai it now appears that her killer will not be caught. A man charged with her murder, criminal Alan Wilson, was acquitted last week.
Over the course of his trial the Rostas family sat in the stuffy and oppressive atmosphere of a courtroom at the Courts of Criminal Justice.
The jury heard harrowing details of how this young woman was murdered.
Some of it was scientific, such as the autopsy report, and can be accepted as true. Some of it came from the mouth of a convicted criminal turned State witness, and this was obviously discarded by the jury.
But the horror and shock of what happened to this young woman will long outlive events in court.
The 18-year-old went missing more than six years ago after she went begging off Pearse Street in Dublin city centre. She was seen getting into a car with a man and was never seen again.
Four years later her body was found in a shallow grave in the Dublin mountains. She had been shot and her remains dumped in a plastic bag.
Marioara was a member of the Roma community. Her family come from a marginalised and very poor background. They came to Ireland and Marioara ended up begging on the streets in the middle of winter.
It's hard to think of a more vulnerable person on our streets.
Marioara had little English, no money and was clearly an easy target for a predator.
The manner of her violent death is a shocking and shameful indictment of a society which should protect all - regardless of circumstance.
It is now unlikely that Marioara's killer will ever face justice and the Rostas family now have to live with that awful reality.
Finally, there is one poignant image from this awful case that haunts me - and I'm sure it haunts many other people.
Marioara's brother gave evidence that she phoned him the day after she disappeared, in a panicked state.
She was trying to read him a street sign, and was crying. She asked for her daddy to come get her. Then the line went dead.
That was the last phone call she made.