The trial of two Lithuanian men charged with murdering a woman in Wexford last year has heard that the victim died of blunt force trauma to the head.
State pathologist Marie Cassidy said she carried out a post-mortem exam on mother-of-two Rebecca French on the day after the 30-year-old’s body was found in her burning car.
Ruslanas Mineikas (aged 26) and Ricardas Dilys (aged 28) of Goodtide Harbour and formerly of Davitt Road South, both in Wexford Town, have pleaded not guilty to her murder on October 9, 2009 in Ard Na Dara, Clonard.
Ms Cassidy said the victim’s remains were severely charred with total cremation in places, when she attended the scene of the car fire on Codd’s Lane outside Wexford Town.
She found four irregular lacerations on the back of Ms French’s head, three of which were overlying separate depressed fractures in her skull. The injuries were sufficient to have caused her death, she said.
However, she could not rule out the victim being alive when she was bundled into the boot of her car with a plastic bag tied over her head. Remnants of the bag and cable ties were found around her neck.
She thought that the bag was probably put around her neck to contain the bleeding from her wounds.
She could not find any evidence of suffocation but this may have been due to the fire damage, she said. Cable ties were also found at her hands and corresponding ridge patterns were found on her face ad wrists.
Some five of the victim’s ribs were broken, injuries consistent with stamping and kicking. Injuries to her arms and shoulders were defensive in nature. Bruising and lacerations on her face could have been caused by punching, she said.
Prof Cassidy added that toxicology reports showed that Ms French had consumed a moderately high level of alcohol along with some recreational drugs.
Garda Oliver Daly and Garda Seán Twomey gave evidence of arresting the two accused at 5.45pm that Friday. It was about an hour and a half after gardaí on their way to the burning car had encountered them walking away from the scene with two other men.
One of the men they were with was known to the gardaí and they tracked them to his house in Ard Na Dara.
Both Gda Daly and Gda Twomey saw what appeared to be bloodstained clothing in the utility area. Neither of the defendants was wearing trousers and the officers arrested them on suspicion of murder.
Detective Garda Louise O’Loughlin of the Garda Technical Bureau’s ballistics section seized a number of apparently blood-stained items from the house.
These included the clothing found in the utility room, two jackets found in the hallway and cushion and arm-rest covers found in the washing machine and in a basin under the kitchen sink.
She took swabs of various areas of bloodlike staining throughout the house and removed debris, including jewellery and cable ties, from the ashes of a recent fire in the living room.
The trial continues before Mr Justice Barry White and a jury of seven men and five women.