A chef who is on trial for murder concealed the headless and dismembered body of a man under a bush in a derelict house in Cork in order to continue to “dismember” it only to be “unlucky” when someone went in the grounds searching for his missing cat and discovered the remains, the Prosecuting barrister has claimed.
Barrister Ray Boland, SC, made a closing speech to the jury at the trial of Ionut Cosmin Nicholescu (30) who is charged with the murder of 64-year-old Frankie Dunne. Mr Nicholescu denies any involvement in the murder.
The body of Mr Dunne was found under a bush on the grounds of Castlegreine House on Boreenmanna Road in Cork on December 28th 2019.
The trial, which is taking place at a sitting of the Central Criminal Court in Cork, previously heard evidence from local man Joseph Pierce. He said that he was trying to find his missing cat “Mouse” when he made the grim discovery of the body of Mr Dunne.
In his closing speech to jurors, Mr Boland claimed that Mr Nicholescu’s unlucky streak was such that Mr Pierce had not only gone on to the grounds of the derelict house for the first time in his life, but had also looked under a bush for his missing pet.
He said it was the case of the State that the dismemberment of Mr Dunne by Mr Nichoelscu was a “work in progress” and that the “last thing he (Nicholescu) expected was for somebody to find the body of Frankie Dunne.”
“He (Nicholescu) was unlucky that happened. It was an extraordinary coincidence hat Mr Pierce’s wife was upset (about the missing cat) and that he went to search for it. In twenty years living (in the area) he (Pierce) had never been in the garden of that house. It was an extraordinary occurrence that he went in looking for his cat and that he looked under the bush. “
Mr Boland said although it was known that people often came to drink alcohol on the grounds of the house groups generally went to the front garden and not to the back garden where the body was found under a bush. He claimed that there could have been no expectation that the body of Mr Dunne would be found.
The trial had heard that Mr Nicholecu had told police in his native Romania that he had no involvement in the murder. He claimed he had been forced to help in the bagging of the remains of the deceased by two men armed with a machete and a knife.
Mr Boland said that Nicholescu was undoubtedly a “clever man” but that his description of the two men were “comically evil” and straight out of “central casting”.
“One is tall and one is small. One is large and one is light. One has a machete and one has a knife.
Two people (Dunne and Nicholescu) went into Castlegreine that night and only Nicholescu came out alive. All of the lies and inconsistencies by the accused were (put forward) to literally get away with murder.”
He said it was the case of the State that Mr Dunne had two bottles smashed over his head and was then strangled by Mr Nicholescu.
Mr Nicholescu of Branistea Village, Dambovita County, Romania chose not to give evidence in his trial. Mr Boland warned the jury not to take any negative inference from this decision.
He stated that it had been established beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr Nicholescu, who was living and working in Cork in 2019, had been squatting in the derelict Castlegreine House.
He said that Mr Dunne, who suffered from chronic alcohol addiction, had been known to go in to the ground of the house to drink.
He claimed that it was the case of the State that Mr Nicholescu inflicted wounds on Mr Dunne that were so severe that it was a “natural consequence that he would have died.”
He recalled the evidence of State Pathologist, Dr Heidi Okkers, who said that Mr Dunne had glass shards embedded in his skull and had died of neck compression. He said that Mr Dunne had also sustained a fractured sternum.
Mr Boland said that it was possible that an argument had occurred between Mr Dunne and Mr Nicholescu when the former went in to the grounds of the property where it is claimed the defendant was squatting.
“There is no question of self-defence. There is no evidence of any injuries to the accused. If Frankie Dunne did threaten him any way it would be disproportionate to smash two bottles over his head and to strangle him.”
Meanwhile, a forensic scientist from Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) told the trial that she made a comparison between bags found in a bathroom in the derelict Castlegreine House where Mr Nicholescu was squatting, and the two bags recovered from the garden in the aftermath of the violent death of Mr Dunne.
The bags from the garden included a bag in which the head of Frankie Dunne was found and a second bag which contained clothes.
Retired Forensic Scientist Nora Lee told the jury of eight women and four men that she has examined plastic bags for more than thirty years in the course of her work.
She looked at perforations and extrusion patters to determine if the bags found in two places in Castlegreine were from the same roll.
Ms Lee said that both sets of bags were similar in length and width. Having examined scratches, heat seals, extrusion patterns and heat seals Ms Lee said that her findings “strongly support” the proposition that the bags originated from the same roll and “not another random roll.”
The trial also heard evidence from Chief Supt Vincent O’Sullivan who said that gardaí ruled out a number of lines of inquiry. In the course of his statements in relation to the case Mr Nicholescu had claimed that he was forced to carry out the bagging of the head and clothes by two men whom he insisted had carried out the murder.
Mr Nicholescu had said that he went in to the ground of Castlegreine House on December 27th, 2019 where he encountered two men who ordered him to bag the remains of Mr Dunne. He claimed one of the men was Irish and had red hair.
Gardaí spoke to a Cork man who somewhat matched this description, who had a history of violence including threats to kill. However, Chief Supt O’Sullivan said the man had a strong alibi and was not captured on CCTV anywhere near Boreenmanna Road on the night of the murder.