The victim, John Forrester, had just professed his love for O’Connor but, a week or so earlier, she had moved out of his flat and moved in with Grozavu.
Following his violent death on November 12, 2011, he was tied up with a television cable and his body was thrown over a wall to the concrete riverbank below and then thrown in the river by the Romanian and his Cork girlfriend, whose face will be remembered by many for its swastika tattoo.
Detective Sergeant Fergal Foley said that when Jonathan Duke found out what had happened, by seeing the bloody scene at Bridge House in Bandon, Co Cork, where the other three parties lived, he was also murdered by the pair. They followed their previous modus operandi and dumped his tied-up body in the Bandon river.
O’Connor was last year convicted of murdering Mr Duke and got a life sentence. She got another life sentence when she pleaded guilty to Mr Forrester’s murder. Grozavu was also convicted of murdering Mr Duke but decided to contest the murder of Mr Forrester. He was convicted of that murder yesterday by the unanimous verdict of a jury of 11 (after one juror took ill earlier in the week).
In the Duke murder trial, the jury could not be told about the Forrester murder as the defence had successfully argued in a pre-trial submission that it would be prejudicial against the accused.
Similarly, the jury hearing the Forrester murder trial could not be told of the Duke murder in case it prejudiced Grozavu, who had to be presumed innocent even as he served life for murdering Mr Duke.
For the first time in court yesterday, it was possible for Det Sgt Foley to talk openly about how the murders were connected.
Grozavu came to Ireland from Romania eight years ago, married, and had a child in Bantry. He moved to Bandon when the relationship broke down. He then started to come to the attention of gardaí.
In the weeks before the murders, O’Connor moved out of flat 1 at Bridge House where Mr Forrester lived and moved in with Grozavu in flat 3. After a day the three spent drinking together, they ended up in Mr Forrester’s flat, where it is believed he professed his love for O’Connor. This sparked a row.
Det Sgt Foley said: “My belief is that an item of clothing was held around his neck by Mr Grozavu and that she stabbed him in the face with a broken Manchester United mug and another piece of broken crockery. The deceased was taken out of the flat and ended up being thrown to the concrete walkway by the river, sustaining further horrific injuries, and then they went down and threw him in the river.”
It is believed that when Mr Duke later saw the blood-drenched state of flat 1 and spoke to Grozavu and O’Connor in flat 3, he was murdered there in case he would inform gardaí.
Tom Creed, for Grozavu, said O’Connor had “flashed her nakedness at Jonathan Duke” and that he angered her by expressing a preference for another woman and that O’Connor warned him: “If you don’t be careful you will be next.”
O’Connor and Grozavu now stand convicted of the two murders and are both serving two life sentences each.
Forensic evidence was central in bringing the cases to conviction. Also key was the eyewitness evidence by Shane O’Driscoll and Aaron Nolan, who lived together in flat 2 at Bridge House.
They heard the two murderers dragging Mr Duke’s remains down the stairs and laughing afterwards. They also described how Grozavu had told them he had murdered Mr Forrester.
Mr Justice Paul Carney thanked the jury who reached their verdict after four hours and 15 minutes of deliberation.
He exempted them from jury service for the rest of their lives.