Frankie Dunne
Central Criminal Court

Murder accused tells court two armed men forced him to hide victim's remains under bush

Ionut Cosmin Nicholescu is charged with the murder of Frankie Dunne between 27 December and 28 December 2019.

A CHEF WHO is on trial for the murder of a man who was found headless and dismembered in Cork told police in Romania that two men armed with a machete and a knife forced him to put the severed remains of the deceased in to a bag and then under a bush in the garden of a derelict house.

Ionut Cosmin Nicholescu, 30, who is a native of Branistea Village, Dambovita County is on trial charged with the murder of 64-year-old Frankie Dunne between 27 December and 28 December 2019 at Castlegreine House, Boreenmanna Road in Cork city.

Nicholescu worked at the Silver Quay pub in Cork from 2016 until late December 2019. He subsequently returned to his native Romania.

He gave a voluntary interview to police in Bucharest on 16 January 2020. A team of detectives from Cork had travelled to Romania for the interview.

A jury at the Central Criminal Court in Cork heard that Nicholescu told police in Romania that when he went to the derelict house where he was squatting after work on 27 December 2019 he encountered two men.

He said he heard a noise when he entered the garden of Castlegreine House.

“There was a man with a sword or a machete. I was fearful. He told me to follow him.”

Nicholescu said that he dropped a milk carton that he was holding as he was in shock. He claimed that he followed the man and that they came to another man who wore a cap and was “red haired and looked Irish.”

He was told to go around the corner of the garden where he spotted a man lying on the ground.

“I backed up a little. I was afraid. The second man who looked Irish dragged him (the man lying on the ground) to the back of the house. There was no sign of life. The second man started to disrobe the man he had dragged.

“He appeared dead to me. They took off his shoes and pulled off his pants. I saw the second man was armed with a knife,” he said.

“The fat man with the machete pulled out a roll of trash bags from his pocket and threw them near the body.”

Nicholescu told police that he was ordered to put the clothes in a bag. He said he did it as he was afraid the men would hurt him.

He stated that the red haired man cut off the throat of the man with a knife. He claimed that the man with the machete ordered him to put the head in a bag.

“I grabbed the head and put it in the bag. I was trembling with fear.”

Nicholescu said that he knew the men “meant business.”

Meanwhile, the jury also heard that gardaí contacted Nicholescu after he left Ireland for Romania. Chief Supt Vincent O’Sullivan said that he rang the accused on 2 January 2020 to inform him that gardaí wanted to speak to him about the death of Frankie Dunne.

Chief Supt O’Sullivan said that he received a call from Nicholescu at 1.37pm that day. A recording was made of the conversation.

Nicholescu told Chief Supt O’Sullivan that when he went to Castlegreine House on 27 December 2019 he saw two men standing over a body.

Nicholescu said the men ordered him to drag the body through a door at the side of the house in to the back garden. They then “cut up the body, they fucking cut it up.”

“There were two men – one guy was behind me with a big sword like a machete. He told me to shut the fuck up. I didn’t know how to react. I said ‘I don’t want to die – don’t hit me with the sword.’ He told me to come with him or he was going to burst my head with the sword.

They asked me to drag the body into the back, I got it (the body) by the arms and proceeded to drag the body into the back. The smaller guy started to cut up the body and the taller guy stood over me with the machete.”

He told the garda that the man made him put a bag with Frankie Dunne’s head in the bushes along with his arms and the body. When he completed the job the men had gone.

“I did not do anything, I did not kill the guy – I did not do it, all I did was carry the body for them and put it in the bushes… They were swearing in English, they were swearing very good.”

Nicholescu said he didn’t report the matter to the gardaí because he was afraid that the two men would “fuck him up”.

“I’m scared, I don’t want to go to prison because something bad could happen to me there… it is not me that did it, I do not want to go to jail for 100 years. I am innocent.”

The trial previously heard evidence from a co worker of the accused who said that he made an inappropriate joke with her days after the discovery of the body of Frankie Dunne.

Lauryn Walsh described a conversation she had with Nicholescu in which she said he joked “Imagine… if the cat ripped off the head.”

The defendant whom she and other staff members called “Johnny” was in the smoking area at the Silver Key when the conversation allegedly occurred on 29 December 2019.

Walsh said that Nicholescu was staring into space. However, he started to interact with her when the discussion turned to the discovery of a body.

Walsh said that a woman called Jean and an elderly regular customer whom she called “Black coffee man” were talking about the discovery of the body.

She said, “Johnny got up and went to where black coffee man and Jean were sitting and said, ‘I just want to listen.’

Johnny said, ‘Imagine if kitty was playing with the head or if the cat ripped off the head.’ I though this was inappropriate but typical of Johnny.”

The trial continues in front of a jury of eight women and four men. It is being presided over by Mr Justice Paul McDermott.

Olivia Kelleher