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Romanian chef charged with murder of Cork man told gardaí he was threatened by real killers

Ionut Cosmin Nicolescu (30) said he left Ireland because he was afraid he could be sent to prison for something he did not do

Ionut Cosmin Nichoclescu. Photo: Cork Courts© Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Frankie Dunne


A Romanian chef told gardaí investigating the murder of homeless man Francis 'Frankie' Dunne (64) in Cork that he left Ireland for his native country because he was afraid he could be sent to prison for something he did not do.

The revelation came as Ionut Cosmin Nicolescu (30) denied the murder of Mr Dunne before Mr Justice Paul McDermott and a Central Criminal Court jury.

Mr Nicolescu was charged two years ago with the murder of Mr Dunne at Boreenmanna Road, Cork, at a time unknown between December 27 and 28 2019 contrary to common law.

Mr Dunne's dismembered body was discovered under a tree in the back garden of the derelict property at Castle Greine, just off the Boreenmanna Road - with his head and clothing later found nearby in plastic refuse sacks.

His severed arms were found dangling from the branches of a tree.

Mr Dunne's body was discovered when a neighbour searching for his lost cat spotted the remains under a tree.

Mr Nicolescu, who has an address at Branista Village, Damovita County, Romania, is in the seventh day of his trial before a jury of eight women and four men.

The Romanian chef insisted that he was in fear of his life that night after being confronted by two armed men with the lifeless Mr Dunne at their feet.

One man was armed with a large sword like a machete and the other had a knife.

Frankie Dunne

The trial heard details of a voluntary interview Mr Nicolescu gave to a garda team who had travelled from Cork to Bucharest in Romania on January 16 2020. Leading the Garda team was Chief Supt Vincent O'Sullivan.

Mr Nicolescu told gardaí the two men were responsible for Mr Dunne's death and dismemberment - and he left Ireland days after the killing because he was afraid.

"I was afraid that I could go to jail for something that I did not do," he said.

Mr Nicolescu insisted that he found a lifeless body (Mr Dunne) on the ground at Castle Greine in front of two men he did not know. He said both men were wearing gloves and one had a red beard.

He insisted to gardaí that he was forced by the two men to assist them in disposing of the body.

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

He was adamant that the man with the red beard had decapitated Mr Dunne.

"I backed up a little. I was afraid. The second man who looked Irish dragged him (Mr Dunne) 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. The fat man with the machete pulled out a roll of trash bags from his pocket and threw them near the body."

Mr Nicolescu insisted he was forced by the two men to assist with dragging the dismembered body over to the tree in the garden where it was later found.

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

When the two men suddenly left, he went to a park, tried to read, used his phone and then prayed.

The following day, he said he was not sure if what had happened was real and went back to the derelict property where there was now a large garda presence visible.

Mr Nicolescu said he asked both a garda and a journalist what had happened and was told a body had been discovered.

In a phone call with a senior garda as he was travelling between Ireland and Romania, Mr Nicolescu insisted it was the two men who were responsible.

“There were two men - one guy was behind me with a big sword like a machete. He told me to shut the f*** up. I did not know how to react. I said: 'I don’t want to die – don’t hit me with the sword.' He (the large man) told me to come with him or he was going to burst my head with the sword.

"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.

“I am scared. I do not 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 was previously told that Mr Nicolescu spent the night of December 27 at the derelict Castle Greine property.

He spent the following evening in the attic over a staff room in the pub where he worked, The Silver Key, without the knowledge of either staff or management.

The defendant worked the following day but then travelled to Dundalk, Belfast and Edinburgh before finally travelling back to his native Romania.

The trial continues.

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