Sentencing adjourned over victim statement

A JUDGE has adjourned sentencing four men accused of impeding the investigation into a killing due to comments in a highly critical victim impact statement read in court.

Mr Justice Barry White was due to sentence the men in the Central Criminal Court yesterday, having heard the evidence and victim impact statement on Monday.

Two Lithuanian men, a Polish man and an Irish man have pleaded guilty to disposing of and trying to destroy the body of a 30-year-old woman in Wexford last year.

Rebecca French was found dead in the boot of her burning car on October 9, 2009, on the outskirts of Wexford. The state believes she was beaten to death in the house of one of the defendants at Ard Na Dara, Clonard.

The Lithuanian defendants, Ricardas Dilys, 28, Ruslanas Mineikas, 26, of Goodtide Harbour and formerly of Davitt Road South, both in Wexford town, were last month on trial for her murder, pleading not guilty.

The murder charges were dropped when a legal technicality meant their admissions in garda custody could not be used against them and they pleaded guilty to the lesser crime. Gardaí then said they would not be looking for anyone else in connection with what they believed was a murder.

The other men, Patrick O’Connor, 41, of Ard Na Dara, Clonard, Wexford, and 27-year-old Polish man Piotr Pasiak, of Lower John Street, Wexford, had already pleaded guilty to impeding the investigation and were never on trial for murder.

The victim’s sister, Rachel French, read a victim impact statement to the court on Monday on behalf of the French family. “People with criminal records in their own country should never be allowed to live among us,” she said, referring to Mineikas and Dilys’s previous convictions in Lithuania. “The country has enough to deal with,” she said. “Justice in Ireland is sleeping while its people are dying.”

Mr Justice White said he now required the DPP to see it and express his view on its contents. He said that if he were to proceed to sentence after that report being read in open court, he could be seen to be influenced by it.

“Justice might not be seen to be done… particularly by non-nationals, having regard to the xenophobic nature of some of the comments,” he said. He adjourned the matter until next month for the DPP’s decision.

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