Woman jailed for role in suitcase killing

WHEN the children playing near the Royal Canal in Dublin saw a suitcase floating in the grimy water, little did they know the Pandora's Box of crime, intrigue and deception they were about to open.

The children were horrified by the sight which greeted them: a decomposing body.

After a protracted search, which included the morbid move of publishing a photograph of the dead man’s face in the national newspapers, the gardaí finally discovered the identity of the murder victim. His name was Adrian Bestea, a Romanian immigrant.

Once they knew the dead man’s name, they could patch together his life. On further inquiries one of the first names the detectives heard was that of Marina Sourovtzeva, Adrian’s Russian girlfriend. She absconded after his body was found, but once they tracked her down, a tale of hired Russian killers, illegal immigrants and brutal beatings emerged. Yesterday, Marina Sourovtzeva was jailed for two years by Judge Yvonne Murphy.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told that terrified Marina Sourovtzeva hired three Russians to teach Romanian Adrian Bestea a lesson. Sourovtzeva was the victim of countless beatings at the hands of her violent boyfriend but couldn’t report him to gardaí because she was an asylum seeker.

She sought help from friends who introduced her to three men who said they would evict him from her flat for a fee. Sourovtzeva took the men to her flat on Strand Road in Sandymount where they savagely beat Mr Bestea for four-and-a-half hours before one of them hit him on the back of the head with a wheel brace. That blow killed him.

Marina and Adrian came to Ireland for different reasons; she to learn English, he to work. They met at a hostel on Charlemont Street in 1999 and despite the age difference between them - she was 10 years older than him - they fell in love.

After a short while they both moved to adjoining flats on Strand Road but their relationship soon deteriorated. Det Sgt Walter O’Sullivan told Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that Mr Bestea regularly beat Ms Sourovtzeva over a two year period.

It was an early July day last year, when Adrian Bestea administered a particularly vicious beating. It was so severe, Ms Sourovtzeva fled from her house in fear. That day, July 8, she met two female Russian friends in Synnott’s pub on South King’s Street.

Det Sgt O’Sullivan described her as being “hurt, humiliated, embarrassed and upset” when she met the women.

They said they knew some men who could offer protection but she would have to pay for it. She met the three Russian men on O’Connell Street and they got a taxi back to the flat. She told the men that she just wanted Mr Bestea evicted. However, she admitted that she knew he would be assaulted.

When they arrived at Strand Road, Ms Sourovtzeva, a mother of one, let the Russian men in.

They attacked Mr Bestea straight away, assaulting him on a bed for 15 minutes before they put him sitting in an armchair.

They proceeded to hit him continuously over the head from 8.15pm that evening until 12.45am. They took the occasional breaks from the beatings and drank vodka and wine throughout, even giving some to Mr Bestea.

The men said they wanted to kill him but Ms Sourovtzeva said no and tried to get a taxi for her boyfriend to take him to his friend’s flat.

Det Sgt O’Sullivan said Ms Sourovtzeva had lost control of the situation. She was sent out to buy cigarettes for one of the men and when she returned one man was holding a wheel brace in his hand and Mr Bestea lay dead.

The doors, the floor and the walls were covered in blood. The following day Ms Sourovtzeva bought a suitcase and Mr Bestea’s corpse was stuffed inside.

Ms Sourovtzeva and two of the men transported it on the number three bus to Drumcondra where they dumped it off Binn’s Bridge and into the Royal Canal.

Children playing on the banks of the canal found the suitcase 10 days later.

In a case that baffled gardaí, they were forced to release a picture of the dead man and items of clothing to the media in order to identify him. Ms Sourovtzeva fled to London after the body was found and was tracked down to a flat in Kensington in September 2001.

She volunteered to come home and made 15 statements to gardaí outlining her involvement in great detail.

Det Sgt O’Sullivan said the man who delivered the fatal blow had fled the jurisdiction and three days after Mr Bestea was killed he crossed the border into an east European country.

Ms Sourovtzeva, 31, and a mother of one, of Strand Road, Sandymount, yesterday pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and assault causing harm to 21-year-old Mr Bestea at the flat on Strand Road on July 8, 2001.

Judge Yvonne Murphy said the circumstances leading to the sad and brutal murder of Mr Bestea were fully outlined to her but accepted Ms Sourovtzeva never meant to have him killed.

“The accused felt powerless to stop the situation getting out of control and I am fully satisfied it was never her intention to have Mr Bestea killed,” she said.

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