Corbet ‘saw red’ when Aoife Phelan told him of pregnancy

25-year-old tells court he was ‘suicidal’ when interviewed about nanny’s murder by gardai

Robert Corbet told the court today that Aoife Phelan had been  speaking quite aggressively and in a very harsh tone before he attacked her.

Robert Corbet told the court today that Aoife Phelan had been speaking quite aggressively and in a very harsh tone before he attacked her.

Wed, May 21, 2014, 19:32

A 25-year-old Laois man has told his murder trial he would have said anything to get his Garda interviews finished when he described the woman he killed as “a complication”.

Robert Corbet was being cross examined by the State at the Central Criminal Court, where he is on trial charged with murdering the 30-year-old nanny.

He said he lost self control and couldn’t stop gripping Aoife Phelan around her neck after she threatened to ruin his life.

Mr Corbet of Capoley, Sheffield Cross, Co Laois has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Phelan at Capoley. However he has admitted her manslaughter between October 25th and November 7th, when gardai found her body in a barrel buried there.

The trial has heard they had met a few months earlier and she had soon told him that she was pregnant with his child. He had his doubts and an autopsy has shown she had never been pregnant.

Mr Corbet testified today that he was in his garage with Ms Phelan on the evening of October 25th.

“I asked her straight out about the pregnancy and an argument broke out,” he said.

“I said I was entitled to ask questions like this if I was the so-called father,” he continued. “She started making threats that she’d ruin my life and my business if I didn’t face up to what would be a pregnancy.”

He said she was referring to the haulage business his late father had built.

“I was actually afraid,” he said. “I just saw red.”

He said Ms Phelan was speaking quite aggressively and in a very harsh tone.

“It was like a protective instinct went off in me,” he continued. “To hear someone threaten everything you worked for, everything you are, I just snapped.”

He said he caught her around her neck with his right forearm, they fell to the ground and he kept his grip.

“I released it at one stage. I hit her on the back of her head and then I resumed my grip around her neck. I don’t know how long for,” he said.

His barrister, Conor Devally SC, asked him what his state of mind was at this stage.

“Very surreal,” he replied. “It felt like an out-of-body experience. I was watching this unfold,” he said.

“It was a loss of self control. I just couldn’t stop,” he added.

He said he added his left hand to his right hand and had applied a lot of force.