Russian woman jailed for two years

The girlfriend of a man who's body was found in a suitcase in the Royal Canal last summer, a case which mystified gardai for weeks, has been jailed for two years by Judge Yvonne Murphy.

The girlfriend of a man who's body was found in a suitcase in the Royal Canal last summer, a case which mystified gardai for weeks, has been jailed for two years by Judge Yvonne Murphy.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told that terrified Marina Sourovtzeva hired three Russians to teach Romanian Adrian Bestea a lesson

Sourovtzeva, herself a Russian national, was the victim of countless beatings at the hands of her violent boyfriend but couldn't report him to gardai because she was an asylum seeker.

She sought help from friends who introduced her to three men who said they would evict him from her flat for a fee.

Sourovtzeva took the men to her flat on Strand Road in Sandymount where they savagely beat Mr Bestea for four-and-half hours before one of them hit him on the back of the head with a wheel brace. This blow was the one that subsequently killed him.

The following day he was crammed into a suitcase and Sourovtzeva and two of the men transported it on the No 3 bus to Drumcondra where they dumped it off Binn's Bridge and into the Royal Canal.

Children playing on the banks of the canal located the suitcase 10 days after Mr Bestea's death and the public's assistance was sought by gardai to identify the body and get to the bottom of his death.

Sourovtzeva (31), of Strand Road, Sandymount, pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and assault causing harm to 21-year-old Mr Bestea at the flat on Strand Road on July 8, 2001.

Judge Yvonne Murphy said that the circumstances leading to the sad and brutal murder of Mr Bestea had been fully outlined to her but accepted that Sourovtzeva never meant to have him killed.

"The accused felt powerless to stop the situation getting out of control and I am fully satisfied that it was never her intention to have Mr Bestea killed," she said.

"After her visa ran out she aligned herself with some undesirable people who would go out of their way to remain in the country illegally but it was her first offence, she is a young mother and does come from a very loving family.

"Nevertheless the crime of false imprisonment is a very serious one and I feel that the most appropriate sentence would be one of three years but I will take into account that she will have to serve the sentence outside of her native country and impose a term of two years," she concluded.

Detective Sergeant Walter O'Sullivan told Mr Des Zaidan BL, prosecuting, that Sourovtzeva and Mr Bestea met at a hostel on Charlemont Street in 1999 and fell in love. The accused had come to Ireland to study English and her boyfriend had come to work.

After a short while they both moved to adjoining flats on Strand Road but their relationship soon deteriorated and Mr Bestea regularly beat Sourovtzeva throughout a two-year period.

On July 8, 2001 she fled from the house in fear after being badly assaulted by Mr Bestea and met two female Russian friends in Synnott's pub on South King's Street..

Det Sgt O'Sullivan described her as being "hurt, humiliated, embarrassed and upset" when she met the women.

They said they knew some men who could offer protection but she would have to pay for it. She met the three Russian men on O'Connell Street and they got a taxi back to the flat. She told the men that she just wanted Mr Bestea evicted but knew he would be assaulted

On arrival mother-of-one Sourovtzeva let them in and they assaulted Mr Bestea on a bed for 15 minutes before they put him sitting in an armchair.

They proceeded to hit him continuously over the head from 8.15 that evening until 12.45 am. They took the occasional breaks from the beatings and drank vodka and wine throughout, even giving some to the hapless Mr Bestea.

The men said they wanted to kill him but Sourovtzeva said no and tried to get a taxi for her boyfriend to take him to his friend's flat. Det Sgt O'Sullivan said Sourovtzeva had lost control of the situation.

She was sent out to buy cigarettes for one of the men and when she returned one man was holding a wheel brace in his hand and Mr Bestea lay dead. The doors, the floor and the walls were covered in blood.

The following day Sourovtzeva bought a suitcase and Mr Bestea's corpse was stuffed inside. Herself and two of the men took the bus to Drumcondra and disposed of the body. It wasn't discovered until July 20

In a case that baffled gardai, they were forced to release pictures of the dead man and items of clothing to the media in order to identify him.

Sourovtzeva fled to London after the body was found and was tracked down to a flat in Kensington in September 2001. She volunteered to come home and made 15 statements to gardai outlining her involvement in great detail.

Det Sgt O'Sullivan said the man who delivered the fatal blow had fled the jurisdiction and three days after Mr Bestea was killed he crossed the border into an east European country.

Mr Paul McDermot SC, for Sourovtzeva, maintained that it was never his client's intention to have Mr Bestea killed but just to teach him a lesson.

She committed the offence in a state of absolute fear and fled the country in the same condition.

She was afraid she would be killed herself by the Russians after the body was found, a fear, which according to Det Sgt O'Sullivan, was well-founded after what they did to Mr Bestea.

She never meant for any of it too happen and felt genuine remorse for her actions.

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