Suspect in Slovakian's death back in country, inquest told

One of three suspects who fled Ireland after being arrested over a mysterious death is back in the country working in the black economy, an inquest heard today.

Detectives are trying track down all three with the help of Interpol for further questioning about the suspicious death of Roman Godla in Dublin four years ago.

The 32-year-old Slovakian national who died from a blunt trauma to the head was found by medics slumped outside a one-bedroom flat in Phibsboro that he shared with the others.

The inquest into his death at Dublin City Coroners Court heard that the three left Ireland after being arrested for a second time in connection with the death.

Miroslav Balog was traced to a prison in Slovakia, his girlfriend Beta Jelova has vanished after serving a jail sentence in Prague, Czech Republic while Miroslav’s brother Robert Balog is believed to be back in Ireland working illegally.

Investigating officer, Detective Garda Mike Smyth, said: “We are appealing for them or for anybody with evidence on their whereabouts to come forward.”

Mr Godla’s widow, Monika Godlova, broke down sobbing as State Pathologist Marie Cassidy revealed the extent of the injuries suffered by her builder husband who had only been in Ireland a few weeks when he died.

As well as the subdural brain haemorrhage that killed him, there were multiple bruises and grazes on his face, back and arms, a split lip, bruised tongue and injuries to his shoulders where he was grabbed or grappled.

The three suspects told gardai Mr Godla, who had been working in a restaurant kitchen but who had started a new job renovating a house, arrived home drunk on Saturday, September 11, 2004.

They originally claimed he sat drinking with them for a few more hours, told them he cut his elbow in a fight over a cigarette at a bus stop on the way home and stayed up drinking into the night while they went to bed.

Neighbours heard a disturbance at around 9pm that night which the three said was a domestic row between Miroslav Balog and Ms Jelova, who smashed crockery and plates on the floor of the flat at Cabra Park.

But they later changed their evidence, claiming Mr Godla went to bed earlier at 10pm, and they could not revive him after they returned from a course at around 4pm the next day.

They said they hauled him into the shower to bring him around but after their efforts failed Miroslav Balog went to a local shop to telephone an ambulance.

The dead man was brought outside the house because they didn’t know if the address was fully understood by the emergency services, the suspects told detectives.

Mr Godla was pronounced dead at the Mater Hospital and his three flatmates were arrested on two occasion in connection with the suspicious death.

The inquest heard that there were a number of inconsistencies and conflicts in the evidence they gave before leaving the country, originally for Slovakia.

Ms Jelova, who originally explained a black eye during questioning as the result of walking into an open window, later claimed it happened in an assault at Connolly Station, Amiens Street, central Dublin.

CCTV footage of the night of the alleged attack showed no evidence while a witness at a building society she visited the next morning said she had no black eye at the time.

Investigators canvassing pubs around Phibsboro found no-one who saw Mr Godla during the period when he was last seen sober by a work colleague on the Saturday evening and when he allegedly arrived drunk into his flat.

Mr Godla’s widow, Mrs Godlova, speaking through a translator told the inquest that she was speaking to her husband that evening and having lived with him for 18 years knew he wasn’t drunk.

She said he phoned her twice a day and was delighted to have started a new job laying tiles on a renovation project.

State Pathologist Ms Cassidy said the evidence of the autopsy she carried out pointed to a suspicious injury, which was relatively minor with complications, but the results were inconclusive.

“The overall pattern suggests this was not accidental but in the absence of other information we can’t exclude that [possibility] totally,” she said.

There was only a small amount of alcohol in his blood.

Dublin City Coroner Brian Farrell said he couldn’t recommend a verdict of unlawful killing or of death by accident or misadventure because there wasn’t enough evidence.

The jury of two women and four men returned an open verdict.

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