Francis ‘Frankie’ Dunne’s family have said his memory was insulted by killer Ionut Cosmin Nicolesu who made “sickening” jokes about the circumstances of his death.
In a victim impact statement read by victim support officer Margaret Lucey on behalf of Catherine Dunne and the entire Dunne family, they said they were haunted by the horrific and brutal way in which the father of three was murdered and then dismembered.
Nicolescu – in a comment to a colleague outlined during the murder trial – joked about the discovery of the dismembered body by a man who was looking for his pet cat.
He asked if the cat was perhaps playing with the head or if the cat was even responsible for the decapitation.
“The humor used by the perpetrator…was very offensive, disgusting and sickening,” the family said.
“We now have to live with these (graphic) images. We are very touched and haunted by the way our father died.
“We have flashbacks of horror … (about how) our father was killed, mutilated and left behind.”
The family was so shocked by the horrific nature of what was done to Mr. Dunne that some are now afraid of knives.
Others had flashbacks of the horror of the revelations of what had been done to Mr. Dunne.
The family emphasized that although Mr. Dunne battled alcoholism, he never lost the love and support of his family.
“While succumbing to a lifetime of alcohol dependence, he never lost the love of his family. Our father never lost our love or support during his addiction.”
He was described as a kind, gentle and music-loving man who was devoted to his family.
“He was a kind, good and gentle soul.”
The Dunne family paid tribute to Gardaí for their meticulous research and for doing justice to their father.
Romanian chef Nicolescu (30) has been convicted of the murder of homeless Mr Dunne (64), whose decapitated and dismembered body was discovered in the garden of a run-down house in Cork just days after Christmas in 2019.
Mr Justice McDermott adjourned sentencing in the case on April 28 at Central Criminal Court in Cork.
Nicolescu was found guilty by a unanimous verdict of a Central Criminal Court jury for Justice Paul McDermott after a three-week trial. He now faces a mandatory life sentence.
Nicolescu had denied killing Mr. Dunne, a father of three, and maintained that the crime was committed by two other men armed with a machete and knife who had also threatened him.
However, the jury of eight women and four men rejected that version of events and convicted Nicolescu of Mr. Dunne’s murder after deliberating seven hours and 52 minutes over two days.
Mr Justice McDermott thanked the jury for their diligence and apologized for ten years of jury service.
Members of Mr. Dunne’s family wept as the verdict was passed.
Mr. Dunne’s body was discovered on December 28, 2019 in the garden of a derelict house, Castle Greine, by a neighbor who was looking for his missing cat.
Nicolescu was charged two years ago with the murder of Mr Dunne at Boreenmanna Road, Cork at an unknown time between 27 and 28 December 2019, in breach of common law.
Mr Dunne’s dismembered body was discovered under a tree in the backyard of the derelict property just off Boreenmanna Road – with his head and clothing later found nearby in plastic bin bags.
His severed arms were found dangling from the branches of a tree.
Mr. Dunne, who suffered from a serious alcohol problem, had received help from the homeless shelter in Cork.
Aid workers at Clanmornin House, a dry shelter for the homeless in Cork, said Mr Dunne, 64, had tried to cut down on his drinking and was well liked by staff and other residents alike.
An aid worker said he believed Mr Dunne was incapable of violence.
Nicolescu, who has an address in Branista Village, Damovita County, Romania, insisted that Mr.
The Romanian chef said he feared for his life that night (December 27) after being confronted by two armed men with Mr. Dunne’s lifeless body at their feet.
He told Gardaí that one man was armed with a large sword like a machete and the other had a knife.
Nicolescu insisted that these two men were responsible for Mr Dunne’s death and mutilation, and that he left Ireland days after the murder because he was afraid.
“I was afraid I could go to prison for something I didn’t do,” he said.
Nicolescu insisted that he had found a lifeless body (Mr. Dunne) on the ground at Castle Greine in the presence of two men he did not know.
He said both men wore gloves and one had a red beard. One also sounded Irish.
“There was a man with a sword or a machete – I was scared. He told me to follow him.”
Nicolescu was convinced that the red-bearded man had beheaded Mr. Dunne.
“I backed off a bit. I was scared. 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 drag the man he had to undress.
“He looked dead to me. They took off his shoes and his pants. I saw that the second man was armed with a knife. The fat man with the machete took a roll of garbage bags out of his pocket and threw them next to the body.
“I took the head and put it in the bag. I was trembling with fear.”
In a phone conversation with a senior garda while traveling between Ireland and Romania, Nicolescu insisted it was the two men who were responsible.
“There were two men – one man stood behind me with a big sword like a machete. He told me to shut up. I didn’t know how to react. I said, “I don’t want to die – don’t strike me with the sword.” He (the great man) told me to go with him or he would break my head with the sword.
“I didn’t do anything, I didn’t kill the man. I did not do it. All I did was carry the body for them and put it in the bushes.
“I’m scared. I don’t want to go to prison because something bad could happen to me there. It’s not me who did it. I don’t want to go to prison for 100 years. I’m innocent.”
However, the state argued that the two men were “phantoms” – and Gardaí did not believe they existed.
Ray Boland SC, on behalf of the state, said it is the prosecution’s argument that Nicolescu had tried to pin the murder on the mystery men.
“It is the case of the State that these two men were not there (that night). According to the state, these men were phantoms. The Gardaí did not believe that these people existed.”
Mr Boland said it was the state’s business that “a crucial piece of evidence” was obtained from Nicolescu’s interview with Gardaí in Romania.
He said the defendant had told police that there was no connection between the plastic bin bags in which parts of Mr Dunne’s body had been found in the garden and the bin bags in the derelict house he had used to clean the premises that used by other squatters. .
Nicolescu told Gardaí that one man was armed with a large sword like a machete and the other had a knife, insisting that these two men were responsible for Mr. Dunne’s death.
“Frankie Dunne’s blood was found on that (garbage bag in the property). I say that’s important,” he said.
An autopsy performed by state pathologist Dr Heidi Okkers at Cork University Hospital (CUH) found that Mr Dunne died of neck compression and blunt force trauma to the head.
Shards of glass were also found in Mr Dunne’s scalp and on his clothing, suggesting that a bottle or bottles had broken above his head.
The autopsy confirmed that the dismemberment of Mr. Dunne’s body occurred after his death.
Nicolescu spent the night of December 27 in the derelict Castle Greine estate.
He spent the following evening in the attic above a staff room at the pub where he worked, The Silver Key in Ballinlough, without the knowledge of the staff or management.
The defendant worked the next day, but then traveled to Dundalk, Belfast and Edinburgh before finally returning to his native Romania.