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Frankie Dunne

Chef jailed for life for murder of 64-year-old Frankie Dunne

In imposing the sentence, the Judge said Ionut Cosmin Nicholescu had shown “shocking disrespect” to Dunne.

A CHEF HAS been jailed for life for the murder of a father of three who was found partially dismembered and headless on the grounds of a derelict house in Cork by a man who who was out looking for his missing cat. 

On 31 March at a sitting of the Central Criminal Court in Cork a jury of eight women and four men found Ionut Cosmin Nicholescu, a 31 year old native of Branistea, Damobovita County, Romania, guilty of the murder of 64-year-old Frankie Dunne.

The jurors reached their unanimous verdict after deliberating for close to eight hours. 

The three week trial had heard that the head of Dunne was found in a bag on the grounds of Castlegreine House in Boreenmanna Road in Cork on 28 December 2019. His body was discovered under a tree in the property, whilst his arms, which had been removed from his body, were “draped over the branch of a tree”.

Nicholescu was without previous convictions. His account of what had occurred was that he had stumbled upon two men who had carried out the murder when making his way in to a derelict period house in which he was squatting. 

He claimed in police interviews in Romania that the two men had made him bag the remains of Dunne. 

However, Ray Boland, SC, for the Prosecution had said that the “two phantoms” were like “baddies out of central central”.

“They are comically evil, both bearded, once carrying a machete, one carrying a knife.”

Today at a sitting of the court in Cork, Mr Justice Paul McDermott said that the evidence at the trial was at times “gruesome” and “distressing” in nature. 

In imposing a mandatory life sentence on Nicholescu, he said that he had shown “shocking disrespect” to Dunne by not only killing but dismembering him. Dunne had been “bludgeoned by a bottle and strangled” until he was rendered unconscious. 

He stated that although Nicholescu had indicated through his barrister, Philipp Rahn, SC, that he accepted the finality of his sentence he still hadn’t “expressed remorse” or given an explanation for what had occurred. 

Mr Justice McDermott said that it was important to put the focus back on Dunne who was a much loved father of three, grandfather, sibling and cousin who had “a lot of engagement with his family”.

He said that the victim impact statement painted a clear picture of the difficulties Frankie experienced but also of the “better times” that he had with his family. 

“This is an important opportunity to understand and recognise him (Dunne) and what he meant to others.”

He offered his condolences to the family and friends of Dunne following their loss. 

Nicholescu, who had worked at the Silver Key Pub in Cork city, had fled the jurisdiction following the murder. He was brought back to Ireland in September 2021 on foot of a European Arrest Warrant. He has indicated that he will not appeal his sentence which was backdated to when he first entered custody two years ago. 

Meanwhile, the trial had heard that the body of Dunne could have remained undiscovered in bushes in the property only for local man, Joseph Pierce, who had received a call from his wife who was worried about their missing cat called Mouse. 

Pierce gave evidence in which he said that he had lived in the area for over 20 years but had never stepped foot in the garden of Castlegreine House on Boreenmanna Road until the fateful afternoon of 28 December 2019 when he decided to give the area a quick browse before light was lost for the day. 

Initially he was in disbelief at what he saw under a bush in Castlegreine House and throught it was a mannequin or a holy statue. 

Victim impact statement

A victim impact statement from the Dunne family was previously read into the record.

The family said that Frankie Dunne was a loving father, grandfather, uncle and friend. They expressed their heartfelt thanks to Joseph Pierce. 

The family said that only for Pierce they could still be at a loss as to what happened to Frankie.

The Dunne family said that Frankie had “unfortunately succumbed to a life of alcohol.” However, they insisted that he had “never lost the love and support of his family.” 

They stressed that they would “forever be haunted” by how their loved one had died. 

“Some of the family have an awful fear of knives (since the murder). It has affected our sleep and our wellbeing. It is difficult to function normally.” 

The loved ones of the deceased said that Frankie was “mutilated and left abandoned.”

The trial had heard that Nicholescumake a joke to a co worker about the circumstances surrounding the death of the father of three. He said “imagine … if the cat ripped off the head”.

The family said that the ‘humour’ used by the offender was “insulting, disturbing and sickening”.

Following the sentencing hearing today the family said in a statement that Frankie was a “kind and gentle man.” 

They indicated that in addition to his biological relatives Frankie had another family in homeless shelters and on the streets of Cork. 

“They were their own community. One without their own front door or sometimes even a mattress to lay down on out of the cold.” 

Dunne was residing in a dry house for persons suffering from alcohol addiction in the months before his death. He also received support from his family. His funeral which took place on 8 January 2020 heard that Frankie spent the Christmas before his death with his loved ones.

At his requiem mass at St Mary’s on the Hill Church in Knocknaheeny, Cork his nieces said that Frankie loved his family, horse racing, fixing broken phones and getting a bargain at second hand shops. Dunne was laid to rest at St Michael’s cemetery in Blackrock in Cork.

Olivia Kelleher
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