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Cork murder trial hears how man searching for cat discovered dismembered body of victim

Cosmin Nicholescu, with an address in Romania, is charged with the murder of Francis Dunne on a date unknown between December 27 and December 28 2019.

A MURDER TRIAL has heard how a man searching for a missing cat found the dismembered body of a man in the garden of a house.

Gardaí later, searching the garden, discovered the arms of the body underneath a tree and the head of the dead man in a black plastic bag. 

The outline of the discovery formed part of the prosecution’s opening in the trial of Ionut Cosmin Nicholescu with an address at Branistea Village, Branistea Communve, Damovita County, Romania for the murder of Francis Dunne.

Nicholescu is charged that on a date unknown between December 27 and December 28, 2019, he murdered Francis Dunne at Castlegreine House, Boreenamanna Road, Cork.

The trial, before Mr Justice Paul McDermott and a jury of eight women and four men, began at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork city. 

Ray Boland, SC, for the state gave the jury an outline of the evidence that they will hear during the trial. 

He said that the State would allege that on 28 December 2019 a man searching for a missing cat went to the derelict Castlegreine House, Boreenamanna Road in Cork city. 

While there he looked under a tree in a garden area where he discovered the remains of a man who was later identified as Francis “Frankie” Dunne. 

The body was naked except for socks and was missing its head and arms. The gardaí were alerted and they sealed off the scene and began a murder investigation. 

Boland said that the garda investigation has determined that the alleged victim was living at a residential centre for homeless people in Cork city. 

The prosecution will allege that the accused was working as a chef in a nearby bar, the Silver Key in Ballinlough, at the time and was squatting in an upstairs room in Castlegreine House. 


The State will claim that Dunne left his accomodation on 27 December and travelled to an off licence at 7.25pm. He then went to Boreenmanna Road. 

Boland said that the State alleges that at that time the accused, who is a Romanian national living in Ireland since 2006, was shopping in a supermarket in the city at 7.54pm.

At 8.24pm on that night Boland said the gardaí would allege that two friends Kevin Goggin and Donal Keane were walking past Castlegreine House.

He said as they passed they heard “various things” – he said the jury would hear their evidence.

Boland said 13 minutes later another witness Daragh O’Callaghan, passing Castlegreine House, saw through a gap in the fence a man wearing a grey hoodie with his back to him. 

The body was discovered then on 28 December. 

As gardaí investigated the body was removed for post mortem and a pathologist found that during this examination she determined that the victim died from neck compression.

She also found that there were glass fragments in his skull which Boland said, gardaí would allege, was consistent with bottles broken over his head.

He said that forensic examinations have determined that Frankie Dunne was killed in the back garden of the property. 

The post mortem results, Boland said, will show dismemberment occured after death. Cause of death was alleged neck compression and blunt force trauma to the head.

The dismemberment occured after death, the trial will hear.

Boland said that when the body was discovered that the accused was in work at the Silver Key and returned to Castlegreine House on 28 December to find gardaí preserving the scene. He did not spend the night at Castlegreine House.  

Boland said that the prosecution will allege that in the early hours of the 28 December the accused made his way early morning bus to Dundalk, Belfast and from there to Edinburgh and then onto Romania. 

The state will claim that during this journey Detective Garda Vincent O’Sullivan made contact with Nicholescu. 

These conversations were recorded and the Jury will hear the recordings during the trial. 


On 16 January 2020 gardaí travelled to Romania and met with the accused – he was interviewed by Romanian police with gardaí observing.

Boland said the accused was there of his own will and he gave an account of what he claimed happened. 

In a statement he gave to Romanian police during this meeting he said that he had come back to the Castlegreine House on 27 December 2019 and found Francis Dunne unconscious.

The State alleges that he said in this statement that there were two men standing near or over the body armed with a machete and the other with a knife.

He claimed to gardaí and Romanian police that they threatened him to help with the disposal of the body.

He claimed, the prosecution alleges, that one of the men cut off the head and the arms with a knife.

He then claims that one of the men gave him refuse sacks to help them dispose of the body.

Boland said he told gardaí and police that he was afraid of these people.

The barrister said that a specialist garda photo impression was done depicting these people but was never circulated as gardaí did not believe the story. 

“If that is what happened he is innocent of killing Francis Dunne – no charge in relation to helping to dispose of the body.

“If you think that is reasonably possible you must acquit accused – state case these two people were not there or at least did not exist or if real people they had nothing to do with the death of Francis Dunne.

“The State’s case is that these men were phantoms – they had nothing to do with it,” Boland said.

The trial heard evidence from garda cartographers this afternoon. 

The hearing continues and is expected to last three weeks.