Rostas trial witness denies photofit evidence

Monday 21 July 2014 22.03
Mariora Rostas' body was found in a shallow grave in the Dublin Wicklow mountains
Mariora Rostas' body was found in a shallow grave in the Dublin Wicklow mountains

A key witness in a murder trial has denied that a photofit of a suspect in the investigation into the disappearance of Mariora  Rostas looks like him.

Fergus O'Hanlon, who claims to have helped his friend Alan Wilson to bury the teenager's body, also refused to take part in an identity parade after he was arrested.

Mr O'Hanlon is being cross examined for a second day in the trial of Mr Wilson, 35, of New Street Gardens, Dublin, who has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Rostas at Brabazon Street, The Coombe between 7 January and 8 January, 2008.

This morning the jury was shown a composite drawing or "photofit" drawn up after Ms Rostas' brother gave a description of the man driving the car she was seen getting into.

The jury was also shown a photograph of Mr O'Hanlon and it was put to him that the photofit was like him.

It was also put to him that photographs of him in late 2011 showed a red mark on his face which had also been described by the missing girl's brother. He said he would not agree.

Mr O'Hanlon denied it was him driving the car on 6 January.

He said he did not take part in an identity parade as it would be seen as cooperating with gardaí and he would be shot.

"I knew only one thing would come out of that and that was a bullet in the head".

Defence counsel Michael O'Higgins said Mr Wilson had no problem taking part in an ID parade.

Mr O'Higgins also put to Mr O'Hanlon that Mariora had called out some letters in a desperate phone call to relatives the day after she went missing.

Included in the letters were B, R and A which Mr O'Higgins said could have been Brabazon St which means she would have been in his house while she was still alive on 7 January.

Mr O'Hanlon denied again that he ever saw the girl alive.

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

She died from gunshot wounds to the head.

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

Mr O'Higgins put it to Mr O'Hanlon that he had once invented a story about being abducted and shot in 2000 and had never told the truth about who shot him.

Mr O'Higgins said forensic ballistics experts were able to disprove his theory about being shot as it showed the bullet had been removed from its casing using a tool, rather than shot from a gun.

Mr O'Hanlon said he was did not want to go back to prison and had lied about what happened.

Mr O'Higgins accused Mr O'Hanlon of being a "cold manipulative liar".

Mr O'Hanlon said it may have taken six and half years for the truth to come out but at least he was "man enough to tell the truth now".

He said "none of this has been easy for me. I've had to do this, putting my family at risk, I've lost my kids and I've had to go into a witness protection programme."

Mr O'Higgins said his life was a train crash long before he met Mr Wilson.

The witness replied his life was a train crash from the time he was 28 days old.

Defence Counsel also told the court that Mr O'Hanlon had been arrested and questioned after an incident with two security guards at a hospital, during which he is alleged to have racially abused them and threatened to have them shot.

The security guards were shot at the following day. Mr O'Higgins asked if this was "just a coincidence"? Mr O'Hanlon said it was nothing to do with him.

The jury was shown CCTV footage of an incident at the hospital, in which the accused man, Mr Wilson, can be seen pushing Mr O'Hanlon away from security guards during an argument, but he then breaks away and runs towards them.

He also told the jury that Mr O'Hanlon had once threatened his then girlfriend and sent her a picture of Herbie Kilclyne, a friend and solicitor, holding a gun.

The court also heard Mr O'Hanlon's fingerprints were found on a box containing ammunition, but Mr O'Hanlon said the box had been used to store cannabis he had bought, and he denied having anything to do with the ammunition.