herald

Monday 18 December 2017

I saw Rebecca beaten to death and feared for my life, court told

A WOMAN accused of impeding the inquiry into the murder of Rebecca French (30) has described how Rebecca was kicked and beaten to death with golf clubs by four men in a drunken rage.

The charred body of the mother-of-one was found tied up in the boot of her burning car at Codd's Lane, Wexford on October 9, 2009. Her skull had been smashed in three places, five of her ribs were broken and she had suffered severe lacerations and bruising to the head and upper body.

Helen Connors (27) of Belvedere Grove in Wexford told gardai she was ordered to clean up the murder scene at a house at Ard na Dara in Clonard housing estate while the men disposed of Ms French's body, and that she feared for her life.

Ms Connors has pleaded not guilty to disposing of or attempting to destroy evidence with the intention of impeding the apprehension and prosecution of those involved in Ms French's murder.

Kicks

Ms Connors told gardai that she herself delivered "two poxy little kicks" to Ms French's chest.

"God forgive me. I didn't want to do it. I was told to kick her. They held me while I kicked her. I thought I'd be killed if I didn't," Ms Connors told gardai.

Ms O'Connor named Ricardus Dilys, Ruslanas Mineikas, Piotr Pasiak and Patrick O'Connor as the four men who beat Ms French to death with two golf clubs.

The accused also admitted swinging a golf club when one of the men handed it to her and told her to hit Rebecca, although the club didn't make contact.

"I was messing with the golf club. I was drunk. I was handed it to hit her, but I swung it and hit Piotr by accident," she told gardai.

The court heard how the four men, along with Rebecca French and Helen Connors, had been drinking vodka and wine since about 11am.

Ms Connors told gardai everything had been ok until Ricardus started "punching the face off Rebecca".

Killed

"I asked her to stop provoking Ricardus because she kept getting hit in the face. I said, 'Stop what you're at or you're going to be killed by them'," she said.

She said that when Rebecca said she was going to go the police, Ricardus got "mad and paranoid" and called the other three men out to the kitchen, where they put on white latex gloves.

She said they sprayed Rebecca in the face with CS gas and then started hitting, kicking and taking turns to beat her with the golf clubs.

She describes how the men ordered her to get fresh gloves for them whenever one pair got torn or became full of blood, and to burn the old pair in the fire.

Ms Connors said the victim's intestines came out of her mouth, and she was ordered to throw them in the fire, too.

The trial continues at the Central Criminal Court before Mr Justice Paul Carney and a jury of nine men and three women.

hnews@herald.ie

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