Girl says she told chip shop owner's wife that she would kill him for her


A teenage girl who shot chip shop manager Franco Sacco with his own hunting rifle told a murder trial jury yesterday that she told his wife she'd kill him for her. She also alleged that her first statements to gardai that she had killed Franco Sacco because he had sexually abused her were "concocted" with his wife and others.

In other evidence, a Tallaght barman, Mr Peter Gifford, agreed there was no suggestion that he help get rid of the body after the killing. He was "just asked to help", he said.

Ms Anna Maria Sacco (22), of Riversdale Park, Kimmage, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of her husband, Franco Sacco (29), at their home in Coolamber Park, Templeogue, on March 20th, 1997.

The 17-year-old girl, who was 15 when she shot Mr Sacco, gave evidence yesterday before the jury in a packed Central Criminal Court in Dublin.

The teenager, born in Dublin, cannot be identified for legal reasons.

She told Mr Peter Charleton SC, prosecuting, that she got to know the accused after she started going out with Ms Sacco's brother.

She had "troubles" at home, which started again when she began hanging out at the chip shop run by Anna Maria and Franco Sacco in Rathfarnham village. In the summer of 1996 she moved out of home. After a job offer from Anna Maria she began working in the chip shop and moved in with the Saccos in their house in the Glen, Boden Park, Ballyboden. When the couple moved to Coolamber Park, she moved with them.

Anna Maria used to say "Franco was after hitting her or something". Prior to Christmas 1996 she saw a mark on Anna Maria's face "when he was after hitting her some day".

As March 1997 approached, "they were fighting a bit". She remembered that a week before the 20th, Franco hit Anna Maria in their bedroom. This was "a week or two" before the killing and the following morning she went in crying to Anna Maria in her bedroom. "I said I'd love to kill him for what he is doing to you," she said.

Anna Maria said "I know", and then one or other of them said "You don't know the half of it" and the other said the same back, she said.

Prior to the killing there was "a lot of talking and phone calls to Peter and having him killed all the time". The phone calls were to a previous witness, Mr Peter Gifford who the girl said had "led Anna Maria to believe that he knew people that killed people".

The only thing she could remember from that period was the night before the killing, she said.

She went into the chip shop in Rathfarnham and was speaking to Anna Maria. "We were talking about Franco and getting him killed and I said, look, I'll do it, and she said, would you?" the girl said.

"I said yeah and I gave her a hug," she continued, "then Peter Gifford came in."

Mr Gifford drove in the direction of Coolamber Park when they were going home "because I said to Anna Maria, we'll do it tonight", the girl told Mr Charleton.

She said Mr Gifford knew about it "but he thought it was a joke".

She, Anna Maria and her sister Catriona Sacco returned to the house in Coolamber Park. Franco Sacco was watching the film Heat on a video in the sitting room.

She remembered that in the kitchen, Anna Maria said to her: "Do you love me, I am your best friend, and I said yeah, and then I said the same to her and she said yeah."

After Franco went to bed, the girl said she took the gun out of the press. "Anna Maria said, are you going up to do it now, he's gone to bed", she said. The girl said she started going up the stairs but panicked halfway and stopped.

When she came back down she said she couldn't do it and Anna Maria said "We'll do it in the morning", she said.

On the night before the killing, she loaded the gun. She remembered "being awake half the night thinking about it" and then waking to Anna Maria asking her was she going to get up.

Anna Maria said something to the effect of was she ready to do it, she said. The gun was lying loaded under her bed. Anna Maria went downstairs and she took the gun out and walked into Franco's bedroom.

She walked out again and into the next room. She then turned and went back into Franco's room again.

Franco was in bed, "sleeping". "I fired the gun," she said. "I just aimed it."

Anna Maria said, "What was that noise?" and "she gave me a hug then", she said.

They then went down to the other chip shop in Ranelagh and she thought Anna Maria told her mother what had happened.

They then returned to Coolamber Park "to clean the place up". Anna Maria and her sister were with her.

On Saturday, March 22nd, when the police spoke to her at her grandparents' house, she did not tell them everything, but then on Monday, March 24th, when she made a statement at Sundrive Road Garda station in the presence of her parents, "I told them the truth".

The girl was a minor at the time of the killing and having pleaded guilty, was sentenced by Mr Justice Paul Carney in June last year to seven years' detention.

When her defence counsel appealed the severity of her sentence, it was suspended by the Court of Criminal Appeal in July.

When Ms Sacco's defence counsel, Mr Barry White SC, began his cross-examination of the teenage girl, she agreed that she had taken cannabis, ecstasy and heroin and had tried speed once. "I wasn't abusing drugs. I just used them a few times," she said.

She agreed she stole money from her mother's friend, a neighbour, but said it wasn't for drugs. Cross-examination of the girl continues today before the jury and Mr Justice Patrick Smith.