Man jailed for life for murder of man found dumped in river

Ciprian Grozavu convicted in last of four trials arising out of Bandon double murders

Ciprian Grozavu pictured arriving at Cork Criminal Court. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited

Ciprian Grozavu pictured arriving at Cork Criminal Court. Pic Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited

Thu, Mar 27, 2014, 17:01

A 39-year-old man has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of a 42-year-old father of four whose body was found tied up with TV cable and dumped in the river Bandon in Co Cork.

Ciprian Grozavu, a Romanian national with an address at Bridge House, Sean Hales Place, Bandon was found guilty of the murder of Englishman, John Forrester at Bridge House, Bandon on November 12th 2011.

The jury of five men and six men took four hours and 15 minutes to unanimously find Grozavu guilty of the charge after 10 days of trial at the Central Criminal Court and Mr Justice Paul Carney imposed the mandatory life sentence on the accused.

The jury had been told at the start of the trial that a co-accused, Catherine O’Connor, had already pleaded guilty to Mr Forrester’s murder and today they learned both accused had also been found guilty of murdering another man, Jonathan Duke on November 13th 2011.

Outlining the background to the case, Det Sgt Fergal Foley said Mr Duke was killed because the two feared he was going to alert gardaí about Mr Forrester’s murder a day earlier.

“Jonathan Duke was killed because he had knowledge about the murder of John Forrester.”

Det Sgt Foley said O’Connor had been living with Mr Forrester in Flat 1 on the ground floor in Bandon Bridge House for several months but she had moved in with Grozavu in Flat 3 on the second storey some weeks before the killing.

All three had had been out drinking around Bandon on the day in question but when they returned to Mr Forrester’s flat shortly after 8pm a row broke out when Mr Forrester told O’Connor he loved her.

Gardaí believe that Grozavu put some fabric looped in a lasso around Mr Forrester’s neck to strangle him while O’Connor smashed a Man Utd mug and started stabbing him in the face. They then trussed him up in TV cabling and threw his body over a railing.

The body landed on a walkway beside the Bandon river in the centre of the town so they went down on to the walkway and threw Mr Forrester’s body into the river and it was swept downstream where it was discovered three days later, the court heard.

Assistant state pathologist, Dr Margot Bolster told the court that Mr Forrester died from blunt-force trauma to the head, bleeding due to sharp wounds and asphyxia due to strangulation and was either dead or very close to death when he was dumped in the river.

Both accused were arrested and questioned after witnesses saw them trying to dump Jonathan Duke’s body in a similar fashion a day later and they were charged with both killings, resulting in three separate trials and one guilty plea at the Central Criminal Court.

When Grozavu was questioned about Mr Forrester’s murder, he sought to minimize his own involvement and told gardai that he had nothing to do with the fatal assault and that O’Connor had attacked Mr Forrester before he could intervene, said Det Sgt Foley.

Grozavu told gardaí that he went out the room for a few moments and when he returned Mr Forrester was dead and O’Connor had him trussed up with the TV cable but Dr Bolster said it was highly unlikely that one person could have tied him up in such a fashion.

Grozavu admitted helping O’Connor dispose of Mr Forrester’s body by throwing it over the railing and later throwing it into the river but he insisted that he was not close to O’Connor and repeated that Mr Forrester was his friend and he did not harm him.

However the court heard evidence that Grozavu’s DNA was found on a knot on a looped piece of fabric which gardai believed that he used to strangle Mr Forrester as O’Connor stabbed him in the face with a broken mug.