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‘I snapped after pregnancy row' – Aoife accused

a man charged with murdering a 30-year-old nanny told gardai he “snapped” and punched her repeatedly during a heated argument.

The body of Aoife Phelan was found in a barrel on land in Capoley, near Portlaoise.

Robert Corbet (25) from Sheffield Cross, Laoise has pleaded not guilty to her murder but has admitted to manslaughter of the young woman between October 25 and November 7 2012.

The Central Criminal Court has heard that Ms Phelan had told the accused that she was pregnant with his baby.

records

The jury was yesterday shown copies of Ms Phelan’s phone records which matched records from a deleted WhatsApp file on Mr Corbets’ phone. There were 260 messages on the date of October 23 alone.

The evidence outlined personal messages between the pair including the mention of potential baby names - Mr Corbet suggested Roisin’.

In one message, Ms Phelan referred to being over two-months pregnant and said he needed to get his priorities straight.

“You think I’m not trying,” he replied. “I’m trying to get as much money saved up at the minute so I’ll be able to help out.”

Mr Corbet denied involvement in her killing during his first interviews with gardai that November. He also denied recent phone contact with her about a pregnancy.

Detective Sergeant Brian Hanley testified yesterday that after phone records were put to him he made admissions.

The accused said that Ms Phelan had told him that she was pregnant with his baby and wanted to meet him for weeks. He said he collected her in his jeep on the night of October 25.

“She started to get pushy about not being in a relationship. I just snapped,” he said. “When I came round, she was unconscious.

“She was full-on in my ear about not wanting to meet up and not wanting a relationship.”

Mr Phelan told gardai he pulled in at a roundabout.

“She was just roaring at me, that we were never meeting up. I told her we weren’t in a relationship,” he said.

“I hit her and hit her.”

He said he hit her with his fist on the side of her head four or five times.

“I completely lost it,” he said. “I can pack a punch when I’m angry. She knew exactly what to say to get me going,” he added.

He said that when he opened his eyes, Ms Phelan was motionless and slumped. Afterwards, it was “so surreal”, he said.

“I drove up and down the road and then went home,” he said. “I went into the house and got two black sacks.”

He said his mother was there and that he nearly broke down in tears but held it together.

pulse

“I thought she (Ms Phelan) was going to come to,” he said, telling gardai that he had checked her twice for a pulse.

He was asked what he was thinking. “The only thing going through my head was I need to get rid of her’,” he said.

He said that there was blood coming from her ear when he stopped at a bridge and “put her body over the railings”.

“I feel sorry about the whole thing and ashamed,” he said.

He was asked if Ms Phelan was his girlfriend. “No, a friend with complications,” he replied.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan.

hnews@herald.ie


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