Accused of cleaning up murder scene

Thu, Jun 14, 2012, 01:00

A WEXFORD woman has gone on trial accused of cleaning up a murder scene in a bid to destroy evidence.

Helen Connors (27), Belvedere Grove, Wexford, has pleaded not guilty to impeding the inquiry into the murder of Rebecca French (30).

The body of the mother-of-two was found in the boot of a burning car at Cod’s Lane near Wexford town on the afternoon of October 9th, 2009.

She had been brutally assaulted at a house at the nearby Árd na Dara housing estate, Clonard, and died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head.

On the opening day of the trial, Ms Connors denied disposing of or attempting to destroy evidence with the intention of impeding the apprehension and prosecution of people involved in the murder.

Una Ní Raifeartaigh, prosecuting, told the jury the accused claims she was ordered by the perpetrators to clean up the murder scene to get rid of any traces of the crime committed in her presence.

She said Ms Connors told gardaí shortly after the murder that as the men left the house to dispose of Ms French’s body they instructed her to “clean, clean, clean”, and that she had done so under duress, fearing the men would come back and attack her.

The prosecution told the jury they must determine Ms Connors’ state of mind at the time and whether she voluntarily cleaned up evidence to prevent the attackers from being caught.

Garda Seán Twomey told the court that after he had been alerted to a burning car in Cod’s Lane on October 9th, 2009, he travelled to the scene and found the charred remains of Ms French in the boot at about 4.30pm.

Just over an hour later, Garda Twomey went to the house at Árd na Dara and found four men and two women, one of the men sitting in just his underpants and socks.

Garda Twomey noticed some blood-stained clothes near the washing machine, which was running at the time.

The trial at the Central Criminal Court, presided over by Mr Justice Paul Carney and a jury of nine men and three women, is expected to last until early next week.