Young father Jonathan Duke suffered more than a 100 injuries when he was dumped in a river a in West Cork town.
His killers, Catherine O’Connor from Kinsale, Co Cork, and her one-time boyfriend, known as “Romanian Chippy”, were yesterday given life sentences.
Their tears in the dock, yesterday, were in stark contrast to the evidence, heard in the same courtroom in two separate trials. It emerged they had laughed hysterically when they walked back up the stairs to their apartment after dumping Mr Duke’s body in the Bandon river.
Ciprian (Chippy) Grozavu was also described as howling like a dog while O’Connor laughed like a hyena on the day of the murder.
Yesterday, they both sobbed quietly as the words from the family’s victimimpact statement resonated through Courtroom 2, where the Central Criminal Court sat at the Washington St courthouse.
The statements included a description of Mr Duke, a young dad walking with his daughter Angel, feeding the ducks in the Bandon river.
Det Insp Joe Moore testified yesterday that the river was where the body of the 27-year-old was found after 11pm on Sunday, Nov 13, 2011, with over 100 wounds to his body, many of them stab wounds probably caused by broken bottles.
Pathologist Margaret Bolster said blood loss was a contributory cause of death but the main cause was asphyxiation — Mr Duke was strangled by the wire lead of an electrical appliance and by the cord from his own hoodie.
Mr Justice Paul Carney imposed the mandatory life jail sentences on O’Connor, aged 37, and Grozavu, aged 39. The judge’s only question for Det Insp Moore, who summarised the facts of the case yesterday, was: “What was this all about?”
The detective inspector said the gardaí had tried to establish a motive for the murder of Mr Duke but were unable to do so. “They seemed to be friendly in the days beforehand,” he said, adding that there had been a lot of drinking going on.
The most important evidence in the two murder trials came from Shane O’Driscoll and Aaron Nolan, two young men who were living in a flat on the middle floor of Bridge House.
Mr O’Driscoll recalled: “There was a lot of banging and roaring for 15 minutes, I heard flat 3 door opening. I heard a lot of bangs coming down the stairs. I thought it was rubbish or something being brought out of the apartment. I was listening by the door. I heard Catherine saying to Chippy, [the witness began to cry, at that stage] I heard Catherine saying to Chippy, ‘Just drag him. He is fucking dead anyway. He can’t feel it’.
“I heard thumps going down every step of the stairs. They just threw him over that railing. Catherine and Chippy both came back. Catherine was laughing. Chippy was howling like a dog.”
Mr Nolan said: “They were screaming like animals like they were proud of what they had done.”
Det Insp Moore said gardaí, receiving a 999 call from the witnesses, arrived moments later to find a trail of blood from the front door of the building to flat 3.
Eventually the gardaí were admitted to the flat and they met Grozavu, who was heavily bloodstained. O’Connor was also present.
Grozavu changed his story a number of times as recorded across five memos of interviews with detectives at Bandon Garda Station. Ultimately, Grozavu admitted he had lied. He went on to claim Catherine O’Connor was responsible and he was in fear of her.
O’Connor claimed she was asleep on the couch for the hours before gardaí called to flat 3, and therefore had nothing to do with the crime. Her senior counsel, Isobel Kennedy, also said that O’Connor was in fear of Grozavu.