On the opening day of the trial of Martin Earley aged 49, of Banagher, Carrowmore Lacken, Ballina, who denies murder, Denis Vaughan Buckley, for the prosecution, told a jury that although the body of Sandra Collins, 28, had never been found, circumstantial evidence was that she had been murdered.
Counsel further told the jury that there would be ample evidence for them to come to a conclusion that the accused was guilty of murder.
The trial of Mr Earley before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy began yesterday in Castlebar.
Mr Vaughan Buckley said: “The circumstantial evidence is that she is dead, and has been for a long time.”
Counsel outlined that on December 4, 2000, Ms Collins was living with an aunt, Ann O’Grady, who is now deceased. Ms Collins would return home to her mother, in Crossmolina, at weekends.
On December 9, 2000, a fleece jacket was found on the pier at Killala. Counsel said the clothing was later identified by Ms Collins’s sister, Bridie Conway, as belonging to the missing woman. In the pockets were a packet of sausages and two wet pieces of paper with phone numbers on them. One was that of Martin Earley and another was for an abortion clinic.
Mr Vaughan Buckley said that, on December 1, 2000, Ms Collins had gone to her GP, Marcus Allen, for a pregnancy test. On December 4 she was told the test was positive.
Counsel said Ms Collins, who “did not appear to be unduly distressed”, told the doctor she had to go to England for a termination.
She also said she had been pregnant before and “could not go through another termination”.
Mr Vaughan Buckley said that, during the course of the trial, there would be evidence from witnesses that Ms Collins knew Mr Earley and had a relationship with him.
Counsel said there would be evidence that, on the day she went missing, she made a number of phone calls from a public kiosk in Killala and was “very angry with whoever she was on the phone to”.
There would also be evidence the accused met Ms Collins after she had left a takeaway at around 11.15pm on December 4.
A retired garda would also state, counsel said, that Mr Earley had asked him if a person could be convicted of murder if a body was never found.
The trial continues.