Garda in Rostas case denies witness given preferential treatment

Convicted criminal, who has been granted immunity, says he helped bury victim’s body

 Marioara Rostas: The Romanian teenager disappeared on the afternoon of January 6th, after her brother saw her getting into a car with a man in the city centre

Marioara Rostas: The Romanian teenager disappeared on the afternoon of January 6th, after her brother saw her getting into a car with a man in the city centre

Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 19:41

A senior garda in the Marioara Rostas murder investigation has denied that the State’s main witness received preferential treatment or demanded immunity in return for a statement against the accused.

Det Supt JJ Keane was being cross-examined at the Central Criminal Court today in the trial of the Dublin man charged with murdering the teenager.

Alan Wilson (35) of New Street Gardens has pleaded not guilty to the 18-year-old’s murder at O’Hanlon’s house on Brabazon Street, the Coombe, Dublin between January 7th and January 8th, 2008.

The Romanian teenager disappeared on the afternoon of January 6th, after her brother saw her getting into a car with a man in the city centre.

Shallow grave

Her body was found in a shallow grave on the Wicklow border four years later. She had died of four bullet wounds to her head.

The accused man’s former friend, Fergus O’Hanlon (37), has testified that he arrived home on January 8th, 2008 to find Ms Rostas with a hole in her forehead and Wilson holding a gun.

The convicted criminal, who has been granted immunity from prosecution, said he helped the accused bury her body in the Dublin mountains.

Det Supt Keane testified on O’Hanlon’s involvement in the investigation, including his request to meet senior gardaí in late 2011 to say he had information about the case.

Under cross-examination by Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, he said O’Hanlon had not received any preferential treatment at that time. However, he agreed he had received a suspended sentence for District Court offences some weeks later, after a superintendent told the judge he was assisting in a murder investigation.

Asked if O’Hanlon had requested immunity from prosecution before giving his statement, he said: “At no stage was immunity ever mentioned.”

Sergeant Seán McAvinchey said O’Hanlon had never looked for immunity from him either. He said when O’Hanlon asked him: ‘Will you do a deal in front of a solicitor?’ he took it to mean that he wanted his solicitor present.

Burial site

He agreed O’Hanlon’s girlfriend had told him he feared being arrested when he identified the burial site. The sergeant agreed that O’Hanlon assured him that this was not the case.

Mr O’Higgins then read a memo taken by O’Hanlon’s solicitor of a meeting with Sgt McAvinchey and a colleague before her client gave his statement. She had written that they told her that O’Hanlon had asked for immunity.

“Absolute nonsense,” said Sgt McAvinchey. “We were offering no deals,” he added later.

Inspector Michael Cryan was also cross-examined by Mr O’Higgins. He asked him if alarm bells had gone off when it was realised that O’Hanlon had previously faked a shooting and had described another shooting as having happened in two different locations.

Insp Cryan agreed it did not seem to have been put to O’Hanlon.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and a jury of 10 men and two women.