Alan Wilson found not guilty of Marioara Rostas murder
Teenager was shot four times in head and body lay in Wicklow mountains for four years
The body of Marioara Rostas (inset) being removed from the Manor Kilbride area of the Wicklow mountains, near the Sally gap in January 2012. Photograph: PA
A Dublin man has been cleared of the murder of a teenager who was shot in the head four times and whose body was dumped in the Wicklow Mountains and lay undiscovered in a grave there for four years.
From New Street Gardens in Dublin’s south inner city, he had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Marioara Rostas at a house on Brabazon Street, The Coombe, Dublin, on January 7th or January 8th, 2008.
Her family were in court and did not react when the verdict was relayed to them through an interpreter.
Despite being cleared of the murder, Wilson was returned to prison this afternoon where he is serving a seven-year sentence for attacking a man with meat cleaver during a break-in in Blanchardstown, Dublin, in 2009.
The young Roma woman he was accused of killing, Rostas had only been in the State 18 days when she went missing as she was begging for money from passing motorists at the junction of Lombard St and Pearse St in Dublin’s north inner city.
The prosecution contended she had gotten into a car and had been taken back to a house on Brabazon Street where she was assaulted and shot four times in the head before he remains were driven to the Wicklow Mountains at Kippure on the Dublin-Wicklow border and buried in a grave wrapped in plastic in the foetal position.
The court was told she had made a phonecall back to Romania the day after she was last seen and read part of a place name she could see from where she was being held. It included the letters b, r and a or u.
The prosecution’s case rested almost entirely on the word of convicted criminal Fergus O’Hanlon, who was in a relationship with Wilson’s sister at the time and living with her and their child at the house on Brabazon St.
The five-week trial heard that the Romanian teenager had been begging at a Dublin city junction on the afternoon of January 6th, 2008. Her younger brother saw her get into a car, which was driven off, and her family never saw her again.
Her body was found in a shallow grave in the mountains four years later. She had died of four bullet wounds to her head.
Wilson and his former friend O’Hanlon were arrested in October 2008 and questioned about the murder but no progress was made in the investigation until late 2011.
O’Hanlon then told gardaí he could help locate the body and give information about the crime.
O’Hanlon, who has immunity from prosecution, has since told the trial that he arrived home on January 8th, 2008, to find a girl dead in his house and Wilson with a gun in his hand. He said that he felt sick but helped his friend bury her body and later cleaned up the scene, saying it was a case of “damned if you do and dead if you don’t”.
Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, told the jury that it had got “a master class in perjury” from O’Hanlon. He noted that he had come forward with information only when being questioned about another crime.
However, Seán Gillane SC, prosecuting, said that given the context, the evidence was never going to come from an altar boy. He said that O’Hanlon had already gotten away with his crime of assisting a killer when he decided to help gardaí.
Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy has warned the jury of 10 men and two women that O’Hanlon was an accomplice and a beneficiary of the witness protection programme.
He reminded them of a number of benefits he had received, including money, accommodation and the decision of a judge not to impose a sentence on him in a District Court case.
The judge informed the jurors that it would be dangerous to convict on the basis of his uncorroborated evidence and he gave them the legal definition of corroboration.
The jury of 10 men and two women had only retired this morning to consider its verdict and deliberated for less than three hours before returning a unanimous verdict of not guilty.