Snatched from street, brutalised, shot in the head and dumped

Barbaric end to short life of teenager Marioara Rostas

The scene at Kippure near Sally Gap in the Dublin Mountains, where the body of Marioara Rostas was found in January 2012.  Photograph:  Colin Keegan/Collins

The scene at Kippure near Sally Gap in the Dublin Mountains, where the body of Marioara Rostas was found in January 2012. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins


From a family of 15 siblings, born in Timisoara in western Romania, Marioara Rostas arrived in Ireland on December 7th, 2007. She took a Ryanair flight to Dublin to join her parents and some of her siblings, who had arrived in Ireland three months earlier.

They had been in the Republic before – one of a number of Roma families who set up a makeshift camp on a roundabout near the M50 in Ballymun, north Dublin, in 2007. After the high-profile removal of the camp, Marioara’s family were among those repatriated at the time, but would return later that year.

While she stayed in Romania on that occasion, she was assaulted there and it was decided it would be better if she joined her parents in Ireland.

The family’s only source of income while here was through begging.

On the day 18-year-old Marioara was last seen alive – Sunday, January 6th, 2008 – she was with her brother Dumitru (15). They were begging from motorists stopping at the junction of Lombard Street and Pearse Street in Dublin’s south inner city. The boy later told gardaí that Marioara got into a silver Mondeo car driven by a man. She was in the front passenger seat and assured him she was being taken to McDonald’s. Dumitru said the driver of the vehicle, who was never identified, gave him €10.

Although he and other family members begging close by paced the streets at the junction for hours waiting for her return, they would never see her again. It took three days for them to find an interpreter, who took them to gardaí to report the girl missing. None of the family she was with in Ireland had a mobile phone, although one brother back in Romania was contactable by telephone.

While being held captive somewhere, Marioara managed to get access to a phone the day after she was last seen alive and she rang her brother Alexandru.

She was able to read to him some of the letters on a street name she could see from the property where she was being held. She said she had been sexually assaulted and was asking for her “Daddy to come get her”. However, the information was not enough for gardaí to go on and soon after the panicked call home she was shot in the head four times after being beaten and raped.

Supt Michael O’Sullivan, in an appeal at the time, described the end she met as “incomprehensible in a civilised society”.

Her body was wrapped in plastic sheeting and dumped in a shallow grave in the mountains on the Dublin-Wicklow border in a forest between Kilbride and Sally Gap.

As gardaí investigated, they discovered the family was living in a squalid derelict house in Donabate, north Dublin. It had no running water or electricity, but was home to up to 20 members of the Roma community.

In June 2008, an appeal on the Crimecall programme prompted an anonymous caller to ring in and tell gardaí Marioara had been brought to a house in Dublin, raped and then shot. Just three months later, a woman rang 999 and relayed the same information – but this time the caller provided an address: the same house on Brabazon Street, Dublin 8, where the prosecution suggested during Alan Wilson’s trial that Marioara had been killed.

However, when gardaí went to the property they found it had been gutted by fire just weeks after Marioara’s disappearance. They found bullet fragments in the walls.

Gardaí arrested Dublin criminals Wilson and Fergus O’Hanlon. O’Hanlon had lived with Wilson’s sister in the Brabazon Street property before it went on fire.

However, after being questioned, they were released without charge. While gardaí were convinced the girl had been murdered in Dublin shortly after disappearing and her body buried, they had no real evidence.

In late 2011 O’Hanlon came forward and told gardaí the girl had been shot by Wilson in the house on Brabazon Street that he, O’Hanlon, shared with Wilson’s sister and their child. He told the court Wilson rang him and wanted him to go home to Brabazon Street to meet him. He added that when he got there Wilson came down the stairs.

“He had a rifle in his hand,” O’Hanlon told the court. “He said: ‘Come here. I want to show you something’,” claiming they then went upstairs.

“There was the body of the dead girl there, in the centre of the room, lying on her back, staring at the ceiling,” he said. “She looked like she was wide awake. She had a hole in her forehead and blood running down her nose,” he continued.

It emerged in the court he had previously lied to gardaí about being shot.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy told the jury O’Hanlon had received benefits, such as money and accommodation, due to being in the witness protection programme, and that it would be dangerous to convict on the basis of uncorroborated evidence. In the end, the unanimous not guilty verdict took less than three hours of deliberations to reach. Wilson was cleared but returned to prison to serve out an unrelated seven-year term for attacking a man with a meat cleaver in 2009.

Alan Wilson’s cousin Eric Wilson (30) is currently in prison in Spain after shooting a man dead there in a pub in 2010. Eric Wilson is also a suspect for a number of murders in Ireland and Spain which gardaí believe he was paid to carry out. Another cousin, Keith Wilson (26) is serving life for the shooting dead of Finglas gangland killer Daniel Gaynor in 2010. And a third cousin, John Wilson (35) was shot dead in Ballyfermot, Dublin, in 2012.