A Czech national was sentenced to life in prison today after he pleaded guilty to the murder of a 19-year-old fellow countrywoman in Galway two years ago.
Jakub Fidler (aged 24), of Cartur Leathan, Indreabhan, Co. Galway pleaded guilty to the charge of murdering Nicola Vonkova (aged 19) at Inverin Co Galway at an unknown date between July 20 and July 21, 2008.
The court heard that at around 2.30am on the morning of July 21, 2008, gardaí received a 999 call from Michael Coleman who told them he was being held hostage by Jakub Fidler at his home in Inverin, Co Galway.
Mr Coleman told the Gardaí Mr Fidler may have murdered Ms Vonkova but he could not be sure as he is blind.
He indicated to gardaí he was making the call at the request of the accused, who wished to hand himself in to the police.
Upon arriving at the scene, gardaí found Mr Fidler in a very emotional state; he directed them down a path adjacent to the house.
There gardaí discovered the teenager’s body lying face down in a drain, immersed in water.
Supt Noel Kelly, a senior investigating officer in the case, told the court that prior to Mr Coleman’s phone call to gardaí the accused had made a number of communications via internet, to his mother in the Czech Republic, in which he made admissions implicating himself in the murder of the deceased.
The accused was taken to Galway garda station where he told gardaí during interviews he had been in the company of Ms Vonkova from 7pm on the evening of July 20, 2008 untill her death.
He said they had an argument on the way back from the beach in relation to the deceased spying on his email and instant messaging accounts.
Ms Vonkova returned to the house at Inverin and the accused followed some time later, at which point they had a big argument which culminated in Ms Vonkova’s death.
During interviews the accused made several admissions in relation to the killing and when cautioned by gardaí he replied: ‘I’m sorry.’
State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy carried out the post-mortem on the deceased and noted the cause of death as asphxiation due to manual strangulation.
The court heard that the deceased first met the accused in the Czech Republic when they were both working at a Tesco supermarket chain.
Mr Fidler came to Ireland on July 7, 2008 to carry out landscaping work in Mr Coleman’s home in order to pay of a debt of €2,000; money which Mr Coleman had lent to the accused in order to finance a magazine.
In a victim impact statement read out to the court, the deceased’s mother expressed her gratitude at being given the opportunity to tell the court about her daughter.
Magdalena Vonkova described her daughter as "extremely self-sacrificing" and someone who had a "strong social sentiment".
The court heard the deceased had fought for the rights of animals and organised sponsorship for a children’s clinic in the Czech Republic.
Ms Vonkova said her daughter had lost out on the chance to be an aunt and her nephew would only know her through photographs.
She said: "I am a mother who survived her child and this is a situation no mother is prepared for."
The accused had no previous convictions in his own country or in this jurisdiction and had not previously come to the attention of gardaí.
Mr John Gallagher BL, defending, expressed on behalf of the accused the profound remorse he felt for what he had done.
He said the accused wished to express to Ms Vonkova’s family and particularly her mother ‘’the deep, abiding regret’’ he felt.
"I deeply regret the loss of her life and the unshakable fact that I’m the person who bears the entire responsibility," he said.
Mr Justice Paul Carney imposed the mandatory life sentence on the accused to date from July 21, 2008.