Aoife Phelan killed because ‘she wanted a relationship’

Court told how man accused of murdering nanny admitted to putting body in barrel

Mon, May 19, 2014, 18:23

The man charged with murdering Laois nanny Aoife Phelan told detectives he killed her because her pregnancy was going to scupper his relationship with his ex-girlfriend.

The jury in Robert Corbet’s trial today heard extracts from the interviews he gave gardai after her body was discovered on his property.

The 25-year-old from Capoley, Sheffield Cross, Co Laois has pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms Phelan. However he has admitted the 30-year-old’s manslaughter between October 25th and November 7th, when her body was found in a barrel, buried in Capoley.

The Central Criminal Court heard last week that Mr Corbet first denied involvement in her disappearance, but admitted killing her after phone records were put to him. He said he had snapped and hit her while in his jeep and had thrown her body in a river.

However, the trial heard his property was searched and her body was discovered in a barrel buried about 10-feet deep. He apologised for sending gardai to the river, but said he had wanted “to protect the home place”.

Detective Garda Brian Hanley testified today that he interviewed the accused on November 7th, hours after Ms Phelan’s body was found.

The accused said he collected her in Portlaoise on the evening of October 25th and brought her to Capoley and they had chatted in a garage while he cleaned out his jeep.

“Then an argument broke out about our relationship. She wanted a relationship and I didn’t,” he said. “If I didn’t agree…, she’d ruin my life, which, as I sit here, is ironic.”

He said he snapped, put his right forearm around her neck and that they fell to the ground. He said she banged her head and he saw blood coming from her eye.

“I had a good, firm grip,” he said.

“What were you trying to do?” he was asked.

“Kill her,” he replied.

He was asked what he thought the end result of placing his arm around her neck would be.

“Death,” he replied.

He was later asked why she had died.

“I strangled her,” he replied.

He was asked why.

“She was forward about our relationship and giving me agro about it,” he said.

He said he started to panic when she didn’t move. He said he realised she was dead and saw an empty barrel. He put a black sack over her head.

“I put two cable ties around it,” he said.