Key witness testifies at Rostas murder trial

Friday 18 July 2014 20.40
Mariora Rostas' body was found four years after she went missing
Mariora Rostas' body was found four years after she went missing

The jury in the trial of a man accused of murdering Romanian teenager Mariora Rostas has begun hearing evidence from key witness Fergus O’Hanlon, who described how he helped dispose of her body.

Mr O'Hanlon has told the jury the accused man, Alan Wilson, showed him the body of the teenager when he returned home to his house in Brabazon Street, where Mr O’Hanlon lived with the accused man's sister, Maxine.

Evidence resumed before the jury at the Central Criminal Court this morning after two weeks of legal argument in their absence.

Ms Rostas went missing on 6 January 2008 while begging in Dublin city centre. She had been in Ireland for 18 days.

The 18-year-old girl died from gunshot wounds to her head.

Her body was buried in a shallow grave in the Dublin Mountains, where it was discovered four years later.

Mr Wilson of New Street Gardens in the city has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Rostas at Brabazon Street, The Coombe between 7 January and 8 January, 2008.

Mr O'Hanlon told the trial he had been granted immunity from prosecution.

In his evidence this morning, he said he was taken to a top floor bedroom where Ms Rostas was lying on her back and had a hole in her forehead.

When he asked who she was, Mr Wilson told him she was a witness to her brother's killing.

He said Mr Wilson had a rifle in his hand when he first saw him in the house that evening, 8 January 2008.

Mr O'Hanlon said Mr Wilson then left the house and he checked the teenager's body for a pulse but there was none.

He said shell casings from the gun were lying around the body.

He was in a daze and was physically sick, he said.

Witness thought about ringing gardaí

Mr O'Hanlon thought about ringing the gardaí or an ambulance, he said, but the more he thought about it, he was there on his own and he did not know what way it would look.

He said he put the number nine into his phone but did not proceed with the call.

Mr O'Hanlon said Mr Wilson returned to the house two hours later with a bag and plastic sheeting along with gloves, bleach and ammonia.

He said Mr Wilson removed the girl's clothing and jewellery and then he helped to wrap her in plastic and place the body in a bag.

There was not much conversation going on, he said.

The girl's body was removed to the hallway downstairs and moved to the boot of Mr Wilson's car outside.

He lay on the back seat of the car so as not to attract attention and they drove away.

They drove for "what felt like about an hour" and he presumed they were in the Dublin Mountains.

Mr O'Hanlon said Mr Wilson took the body from the car, and he took a shovel, and they made their way up a dirt track for about 15 minutes.

He said Mr Wilson spent some time looking for a bunker in the ground.

It was never found, so they took turns to dig a hole in the ground instead and Mr Wilson removed the body from the bag and pushed it into the hole.

He said Mr Wilson "stood on her a few times, he was dancing on her".

O'Hanlon denies being a liar

Mr O'Hanlon said just because he was a criminal it did not make him any less of a witness.

In heated exchanges with defence counsel Michael O'Higgins, he said he was not trying to paint himself as an angel.

He said: "I've done things. I've gone down a path. Does that make me any less of a human being, any less of a witness? I’m being truthful."

Mr O'Higgins said he was a compulsive liar and said: "Don't be giving us the sad story about being a common criminal. You're a compulsive liar."

Mr O'Hanlon replied: "I was there you weren't. We were there, me and him. You can say what you want, I'm telling the truth."

He denied he was given Mr Wilson's car long before May 2008 when it was registered in his name. He said was given it in April, but it was registered to him soon after.

He denied it had been given to him because he had crashed his own car the previous Christmas. He denied regularly using the car.

It was put to him that he had been stopped in February 2008 driving the car.

He agreed Mr Wilson had previously given him phones and a motorbike when he was finished with them.

It was put to him that he was on a methadone treatment programme at Trinity Court, which was close to Lombard Street where Ms Rostas was last seen getting into the car.

He agreed he had been on methadone programmes, but could not say if he was on a programme at that time.

The trial has previously heard how the teenager phoned a relative in Romania the day after she went missing and was crying and "asking for her daddy to come and get her".

Her brother, Alexandru Rostas, told the court Ms Rostas was crying and seemed frightened as she told him she was "out of town" and asked if he could tell her father to "go after her".

The teenager also told him she could see a sign and began calling out some letters to him but the phone went dead.