Nobody will be prosecuted for murdering Wexford mother-of-two Rebecca French, who was found in the boot of her burning car last year.
The trial at the Central Criminal Court of two Lithuanian men charged with the 30-year-old’s murder ended this morning after the second of them pleaded guilty to impeding the investigation.
Ricardas Dilys (aged 28) of Goodtide Harbour and formerly of Davitt Road South, both in Wexford town, admitted to disposing of and attempting to destroy Ms French’s body on October 9, 2009, with intent to impede the investigation of another person, knowing or believing that person to be guilty of her murder.
His co-accused, Ruslanas Mineikas (aged 26) of the same addresses, pleaded guilty to the same charge last week. They had both denied her murder. The prosecution officially dropped the murder charges against the two men this morning and the jury was discharged.
Two other men, Patrick O’Connor and Piotr Pasiak, had pleaded guilty to impeding the investigation before the trial got underway. All four will be sentenced at the end of the month and Superintendant Kevin Gralton has said that gardaí are not and will not be looking for anyone else in connection with her murder.
The eight-day trial heard that on the afternoon of October 9 last year, gardaí were alerted to a car on fire at Codd’s Lane, a few kilometres outside Wexford Town. On their way to the scene, a number of the gardaí met the four men walking from the vicinity of the car fire. They said they had been visiting someone.
Other gardaí happened to be at O’Connor’s house in Ard Na Dara, Clonard, Wexford around this time. They were trying to serve a summons on somebody at the house in an unrelated matter, but got no reply. The curtains were closed and smoke was billowing from the chimney.
Firefighters soon found Ms French’s body in the boot of her car and the information from all gardaí led to O’Connor’s house being searched. All four men were found in the house, along with another person, who will be tried next year with impeding the investigation. Neither Mineikas nor Dilys were wearing trousers and were arrested for Ms French’s murder.
Blood-stained clothes and blood-stained golf clubs were seized from the house along with a large amount of jewellery among the ashes of an open fire. The DNA profile from the blood on the golf clubs matched the victim’s.
It is the prosecution’s case that she was murdered in this house, that Mr Dilys used a golf club to inflict three fractures to her skull while Mineikus broke a number of her ribs by kicking and stamping.
State pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy testified that she died of blunt force trauma to the head.
A number of complex legal issues arose in the final days of the trial and legal argument was discussed in the jury’s absence. Mr Justice Barry White this morning told the seven men and five women of the jury that he would likely sentence all four defendants at the end of the month.
“As of this moment, it would be inappropriate for me to pass any comment in relation to the evidence,” he said. “No doubt you’ll form your own opinions and conclusions.”
He then excused all 12 from jury duty for life.