The 64-year-old man whose dismembered body was found in a garden in Cork in December 2019 “could have been anybody’s father, brother or uncle in Ireland”.
Key worker, Mary O’Driscoll, made this comment, saying she liked the late Frankie Dunne, adding, “He loved music. His family were very important to him. They were very much in contact with him. He would visit them about once a week. Traditional music was his life.”
After living for some time with the Simon community on Anderson’s Quay Mr Dunne spent the last six months of his life at their high support facility for eleven residents at Clanmornin House on Boreenmanna Road – across the road from the abandoned property where his remains were found at Christmas 2019.
Ms O’Driscoll told the murder trial taking place at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork when cross-examined by defence senior counsel Philipp Rahn, that when the late Mr Dunne was intoxicated he could be cantankerous but that it would be very manageable.
Mr Rahn put it to the witness that a log of incidents referred to the deceased once throwing a fork at another resident.
Ms O’Driscoll was not aware of such an incident but said, “On a relative scale that would be quite minor. With Frankie, 99 per cent of the time it would verbal.”
Social worker, Sinead Quinlan, said, “He was a big talker. He could talk for Ireland. He was good crack. He was funny. When he was out you would notice he wasn’t in the house.”
Ms Quinlan said residents at Clanmornin are not allowed to bring alcohol into the premises but that some residents would have “something stashed in a bush somewhere.”
A resident who knew him said she found him “amazing – a good soul, a jolly man.”
Care worker at Clanmornin, Don Bulman, found the late Mr Dunne to be “one of the better ones – he got on with everyone. We had no issues whatever with him.”
They spoke about him reducing his alcohol intake. “Saying that, he wasn’t a big drinker,” Mr Bulman added.
Mr Rahn put to Mr Bulman a number of entries logged at Clanmornin House where reference was made to aggressive behaviour by the deceased.
Mr Bulman said, “You must look at the bigger picture. We are dealing with people with severe substance issues. These outbursts do accompany it. With alcohol, unfortunately, this comes out. 95 per cent of our service users would present in this way. They depend on alcohol. We see this every day of the week – this would be typical, this is just leaving off steam.”
One of Mr Dunne’s last known moments was recalled by the man behind the counter at an off-licence on December 27 2019. The late Frankie Dunne was not known by name to the man working at The Office off-licence on Douglas Street, Tadhg Hennessy Burke, but he knew him.
“I remember that night. We were speaking about Christmas, from what I recall. He was saying, ‘Santa never came to me.’ I remember feeling very sad for him. He seemed sober but not in good form.
“I recognised him days later from a photo in the newspaper. I didn’t know him by name. I knew his face. I think his order was a bottle of wine and a few cans of beer,” Mr Hennessy Burke said.
Mr Rahn SC suggested that the late Mr Dunne may have purchased vodka on occasions also. The witness said he recalled him buying wine and beer and that there was nothing unusual about that night when he came into the off-licence.
Mr Justice Paul McDermott and a jury of eight women and four men have been hearing evidence since March 13 in the trial of Ionut Cosmin Nicholescu, 30, with an address at Branistea Village, Damovita County, Romania, who pleaded not guilty to the single count of murder. The defendant is on trial charged with the murder of Francis (Frankie) Dunne.
The count states that on a date unknown between December 27 and December 28 2019, he murdered Francis Dunne at Castlegreine House, Boreenamanna Road, Cork, contrary to Common Law.
Gardaí were first alerted to a body located in the garden when a neighbour went searching for a missing cat named ‘Mouse’ early on the Saturday afternoon of December 28 and found when he suspected were human remains.
Sergeant Eoin Buckley described his approach to the scene: “I crawled in under the tree. I could see there were two arms – he had been dismembered – and they were hanging over the branch of the tree.
"There were two bags. One had clothing. And just by holding the other, I believed it contained a human head.”