The life and death of Marioara Rostas

For almost 1,500 days, the body of teenager Marioara Rostas lay hidden in a shallow grave in Co Wicklow, writes Barry Cummins

WHEN she was enticed into a car by a Dublin criminal on the afternoon of Sunday, Jan 6, 2008, Marioara Rostas was six weeks short of her 19th birthday. Weighing just eight stone and standing at 5ft 3in, Marioara looked much younger than her 18 years. Life was tough for her and her family in Ireland. Marioara’s parents and other members of her family were in Ireland three months, but Marioara was only here three weeks before she was abducted and murdered.

She arrived on Dec 17 and joined her family at a derelict property in Donabate in north Co Dublin. Hope of a better life in Ireland than in their original homeland of western Romania was not the reality for the extended Rostas family. Marioara joined more than a dozen adults and a small number of children living in a property which had no sanitation, no electricity, no running water, and half the roof missing.

Marioara’s family begged on the streets of Dublin out of sheer necessity, and on that fateful Sunday she and her 15-year-old brother Dumitru took the train from Donabate into Pearse St station to beg. They walked to East Lombard St, and spent hours walking between traffic, seeking a few cent from motorists.

Marioara had little English but the man who pulled up in a 01 Louth registered Ford Mondeo somehow managed to convince her to get into his car. Her brother would later tell that the man gave him €10, and he understood his sister was going to get a McDonald’s meal for them and would be back soon. Dumitru never saw his sister again. Neither Marioara nor her brother would have known that the man in the car was an extremely dangerous criminal from Dublin’s south inner city.

Can you imagine the terror that Marioara felt as she realised in the following moments that she was not being brought back to her brother, but was in fact trapped in a car, unable to raise the alarm? She was in a new country, didn’t speak the language and was physically no match for her abductor. You could not imagine a more vulnerable victim of abduction, and perhaps this is what her killers were thinking. Maybe they thought no one would really notice a Roma teenager gone missing from Dublin? Certainly, gardaí would find that, except for Dumitru, no one in the East Lombard St area that day had seen anything.

As is often the case, it would seem that many people ignored the two teenage beggars. In broad daylight, a criminal abducted a teenager on one of the busiest streets of our capital city, and nobody saw a thing.

Although physically frail, Marioara was resourceful. Years of tough living had made this young woman a character not to give in, even when the situation was hopeless. Despite being held captive in what was likely to have been a padlocked room at Brabazon St in Dublin, Marioara somehow got access to a mobile phone and managed to reach her brother in Romania.

It was a disjointed conversation. Marioara was terrified. She told her brother that she was being held captive, that she had been driven about 200km and that she had been violated by a number of men. She read out the letters B, R, I and D from a sign that she could apparently glimpse out of the window of her makeshift cell. That phonecall was not enough to save Marioara’s life, but she left gardaí vital clues. Marioara may have been disorientated and incorrect about being transported 200km, but perhaps she was indeed taken by her captors to another property some distance outside of Dublin before being taken back to the city and locked up. The letters B and R would appear to have been part of the Brabazon St sign, with the letters I and D from the word Sráid.

By the time someone set a fire at the house at Brabazon St on Feb 28, 2009, Marioara’s body was hidden in a forest between Manor Kilbride and the Sally Gap in Co Wicklow. And make no mistake, “shallow grave” doesn’t imply that Marioara’s body was gently placed in a spacious grave dug with care. The reality is nigh-unspeakable: She was dumped in a forest, her body wrapped and hidden beneath the soil.

Before her death, Marioara was possibly raped or sexually assaulted many times. Garda investigations seem to suggest that several men were involved in these crimes. A number of criminals must have been involved in carrying Marioara’s body 1km from the nearest road into the forest where she lay hidden for almost 1,500 days.

Amid the brutality exhibited by the murderer, there seems to be cunning and wherewithal, to transport her body after she was shot dead at Brabazon St to the wilds of Co Wicklow.

The use of the Wicklow Mountains to hide the bodies of murder victims is not new. Back in 1979, after he abducted Phyllis Murphy in Newbridge and murdered her, John Crerar drove her body deep into the Sally Gap and hid her. Who knows how many victims lie in the Garden County forests?

Marioara Rostas suffered hardship; in death she suffered unspeakable brutality. Detectives from Pearse St and Kevin St stations deserve praise for recovering Marioara’s body. Old-fashioned police work helped to bring some healing in the case of a young woman who suffered one of the most terrifying and brutal deaths imaginable. This country let Marioara down, but this country can now do right by her and catch and convict the Irish criminals who thought they could get away with abducting and killing a Roma girl on a whim.

* Barry Cummins is a reporter with RTÉ’s Prime Time. He is also the author of Missing and Without Trace.

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