Detectives investigating Sliabh Liag murder have taken ‘over 200 statements’

Lawyer for Nikita Burns (21) ‘absolutely outraged’ at lack of information on case from State, claiming delay ‘beggars belief’

Detectives investigating the murder of a man whose body was found off Sliabh Liag in Co Donegal have taken over 200 statements, a judge has been told.

The case relates to Robert Wilkin whose body was found floating in waters off Sliabh Liag on July 3rd.

Two people have been charged with his murder but a solicitor representing one of them, 21-year-old Nikita Burns, has criticised delays to the case.

Ms Burns and Alan Vial (38), who appeared separately via video link at Letterkenny District Court on Monday, are charged with the murder of Robert, or Robin, Wilkin on June 25th.


Det Gda Ciaran O’Brien from Ballyshannon Garda Station told the court that a file in the case is “in the final stages of completion”. He outlined the complexity of the probe.

Over 200 statements have been taken in the case while detectives piecing together a complex jigsaw of evidence have gathered ‘well in excess’ of 200 exhibits, he said.

Sixteen interviews were conducted with the accused while six crime scenes were designated. Other scenes of interest were also examined by gardaí.

Det Gda O’Brien said there was a “huge” volume of forensic analysis required in the matter. One outstanding report is expected to be returned to gardaí this week with another anticipated to be completed by October 13th.

Det Gda O’Brien said: “We believe that a file will be ready to go to the DPP’s office in two weeks’ time when we have those reports.”

Sgt Gerard Dalton told the court that formal directions are awaited from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the case of Ms Burns. Her solicitor, Mr Rory O’Brien, said the delays from the DPP’s office in the matter are “outrageous”.

“I am absolutely outraged at what is being communicated to the court,” Mr O’Brien said. “She has been in custody for a significant period. She can only be tried by indictment at the Central Criminal Court. The State, be it the gardaí or the DPP, are hiding behind directions, which have yet to come.

“For no directions to be provided is outrageous and it beggars belief. What is going on here? Why can’t they provide a very simple direction? They know there is a ticking clock that they don’t want to trigger. Why not?”

Det Gda O’Brien told the court that an oral direction was given by the DPP for Burns to be charged with murder and a formal direction is awaited.

“Is this a holding charge while my client languishes in custody? The State needs to provide a simple direction as to where this will be prosecuted and stop the excuses,” he said. “She has pleaded not guilty and she may not see a trial date for two years, but nothing starts until the directions arrive.”

Ms Burns was remanded in custody to appear again via video link before Letterkenny District Court on October 23rd.

“It is important that the urgency of this matter is impressed,” Judge Éiteáin Cunningham said.

Judge Cunningham extended the time for a book of evidence to be served on Mr Vial, who is represented by solicitor Mr Patsy Gallagher.

Mr Vial was also remanded in custody to appear via video link on October 23rd.