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Catherine O'CONNOR





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Drug addict
Number of victims: 2
Date of murder: November 12/13, 2011
Date of arrest: November 13, 2011
Date of birth: 1976
Victim profile: Jonathan Duke, 27 / John Forrester, 42
Method of murder: Ligature strangulation
Location: Bandon, Co Cork, Ireland
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment on July 16, 2013 and October 22, 2013
photo gallery

Mum of three Catherine O'Connor guilty of second murder

Drug addict pleaded guilty to killing 42-year-old neighbour John Forrester

October 22, 2013

By Natasha Reid -

A mum of three has been sentenced to life in prison for murder for a second time.

Catherine O’Connor pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court yesterday to killing her 42-year-old neighbour John Forrester.

Drug addict O’Connor is already serving a life sentence handed down last year after she admitted murdering another man Jonathan Duke.

The 37-year-old killed the English father of four at Bridge House, Bandon, Co Cork, on November 12, 2011.

They both lived in a flat at the house.

She then wrapped his body in cable wire and carpet, while his feet were tied with the belt from her cardigan, and dumped it in the River Bandon.

Det Sgt Fergal Foley told the court the investigation into another murder led to an investigation into Mr Forrester’s death and the discovery of his body on November 15 that year.

He said Mr Forrester died of blunt force trauma and asphyxia. His hyoid bone had been broken and there was bruising to his throat.

The victim also had a fractured skull, several broken ribs, a broken hip and lacerations to his head and mouth.

He said a technical examination of Mr Forrester’s flat showed blood had been mopped up.

O’Connor’s fingerprint was found in his blood on a broken Man Utd cup.

It was later established the jagged edge of this cup and a broken plate had caused head and facial injuries to Mr Forrester.

In O’Connor’s flat, her grey cardigan was missing the belt discovered around the victim’s feet.

Mr Forrester’s blood was also found on a mobile phone in her flat.

The detective added that on November 13 O’Connor had told the couple living in the house’s third flat she had killed Mr Forrester.

Det Gda Foley told the court she was arrested on suspicion of the murder on January 28 last year and had been in custody since.

The officer revealed she had 55 previous convictions, the most significant dating from July, when she was found guilty of murdering Jonathan Duke.

Mr Forrester’s family were in court for the hearing and his nephew blasted the killer.

Jamie Forrester said: “We hope she’ll never see the light of day again and be allowed to torture another family like she’s tortured ours.”

Mr Justice Paul Carney handed down the mandatory life sentence.


Killers cry hearing family’s statement

Two killers broke down in tears at opposite sides of a courtroom dock yesterday after hearing of the impact on the murdered victim’s heartbroken family.

By Liam Heylin -

July 18, 2013

Young father Jonathan Duke suffered more than a 100 injuries when he was dumped in a river a in West Cork town.

His killers, Catherine O’Connor from Kinsale, Co Cork, and her one-time boyfriend, known as “Romanian Chippy”, were yesterday given life sentences.

Their tears in the dock, yesterday, were in stark contrast to the evidence, heard in the same courtroom in two separate trials. It emerged they had laughed hysterically when they walked back up the stairs to their apartment after dumping Mr Duke’s body in the Bandon river.

Ciprian (Chippy) Grozavu was also described as howling like a dog while O’Connor laughed like a hyena on the day of the murder.

Yesterday, they both sobbed quietly as the words from the family’s victim impact statement resonated through Courtroom 2, where the Central Criminal Court sat at the Washington St courthouse.

The statements included a description of Mr Duke, a young dad walking with his daughter Angel, feeding the ducks in the Bandon river.

Det Insp Joe Moore testified yesterday that the river was where the body of the 27-year-old was found after 11pm on Sunday, Nov 13, 2011, with over 100 wounds to his body, many of them stab wounds probably caused by broken bottles.

Pathologist Margaret Bolster said blood loss was a contributory cause of death but the main cause was asphyxiation — Mr Duke was strangled by the wire lead of an electrical appliance and by the cord from his own hoodie.

Mr Justice Paul Carney imposed the mandatory life jail sentences on O’Connor, aged 37, and Grozavu, aged 39. The judge’s only question for Det Insp Moore, who summarised the facts of the case yesterday, was: “What was this all about?”

The detective inspector said the gardaí had tried to establish a motive for the murder of Mr Duke but were unable to do so. “They seemed to be friendly in the days beforehand,” he said, adding that there had been a lot of drinking going on.

The most important evidence in the two murder trials came from Shane O’Driscoll and Aaron Nolan, two young men who were living in a flat on the middle floor of Bridge House.

Mr O’Driscoll recalled: “There was a lot of banging and roaring for 15 minutes, I heard flat 3 door opening. I heard a lot of bangs coming down the stairs. I thought it was rubbish or something being brought out of the apartment. I was listening by the door. I heard Catherine saying to Chippy, [the witness began to cry, at that stage] I heard Catherine saying to Chippy, ‘Just drag him. He is fucking dead anyway. He can’t feel it’.

“I heard thumps going down every step of the stairs. They just threw him over that railing. Catherine and Chippy both came back. Catherine was laughing. Chippy was howling like a dog.”

Mr Nolan said: “They were screaming like animals like they were proud of what they had done.”

Det Insp Moore said gardaí, receiving a 999 call from the witnesses, arrived moments later to find a trail of blood from the front door of the building to flat 3.

Eventually the gardaí were admitted to the flat and they met Grozavu, who was heavily bloodstained. O’Connor was also present.

Grozavu changed his story a number of times as recorded across five memos of interviews with detectives at Bandon Garda Station. Ultimately, Grozavu admitted he had lied. He went on to claim Catherine O’Connor was responsible and he was in fear of her.

O’Connor claimed she was asleep on the couch for the hours before gardaí called to flat 3, and therefore had nothing to do with the crime. Her senior counsel, Isobel Kennedy, also said that O’Connor was in fear of Grozavu.


Woman convicted of brutal murder of Jonathan Duke

Court told O'Connor laughed like a hyena after she dumped the body

July 17, 2013

A mum-of-three has been found guilty of the sickening murder of a man she dumped in a river.

Catherine O'Connor, 37, was convicted of the brutal killing of Jonathan Duke, 27, in Bandon, Co Cork.

Mr Duke's body was found with more than 100 separate injuries in November 2011.

When shocked gardai pulled Mr Duke's body from the River Bandon, an electrical flex with the plug attached was wrapped around his neck.

He had been badly beaten, strangled and stabbed.

O'Connor, of Bridge House, Sean Hales Place, Bandon, denied the murder.

Sitting in Cork, the Central Criminal Court was told how O'Connor laughed like a hyena after she had dumped Mr Duke's body.

A Romanian man she was living with, Ciprian Grozavu, 39, has already been convicted of the murder.

Following O'Connor's conviction, Judge Paul Carney handed the evil pair mandatory life sentences.

Gardai were called to the apartment complex the night of the killing after two other residents said they heard a row and then saw a body being dumped over a balcony.

The terrified pair then fled the apartment complex to raise the alarm.

When gardai arrived they found a pool of blood outside the complex and Mr Duke's ATM card.

They followed a blood trail up the stairs and across the landing to the murder scene where they found O'Connor and Grozavu.

O'Connor was found in her underwear with her hands and feet soaked in Mt Duke's blood.

Grozavu tried to claim the blood was from an assault he had suffered but later admitted it was Mr Duke's.

Three jury members broke down and wept as Mr Duke's heartbroken sister Cindy read a victim impact statement.

Cindy said: "We will never forget and we will never forgive."

She said that her brother had endured "a horrible and cruel death" from people he had thought were his friends.

She also described him as "the big baby" of the family and said they mourned his loss every single day.

Both Grozavu and O'Connor wept as Ms Duke finished reading her statement.

O'Connor said she had no recollection of what happened after drinking up to four bottles of vodka and consuming a cocktail of sedatives, painkillers and magic mushrooms.

A GP who examined O’Connor in Bandon Garda Station said she was “laughing hysterically.”


'Trail of blood led Gardai to accused in her underwear'

By Ralph Riegel -

July 6, 2013

GARDAI following a blood trail into an apartment building found a murder accused lying on a couch in her underwear with both her hands and feet covered in blood.

The revelation came as the Central Criminal Court murder trial of Catherine O'Connor (37) heard she later told gardai she had consumed a quantity of magic mushrooms.

Gardai said O'Connor was lying on the couch while a large pool of blood was in the centre of the floor near a coffee table.

Officers had called at the west Cork building after receiving a 999 call from a resident who said he saw a body being thrown over a balcony.


Gardai spotted blood spatters all over the floor, stairs, walls and even a light switch in the complex.

O'Connor, of Bridge House, Sean Hales Place, Bandon, Co Cork, denies the murder of father-of-one Jonathan 'Dukie' Duke (27) at Bridge House on the evening of November 13, 2011.

The strangled body of the young man, a native of the west Cork town, was recovered from the River Bandon outside his home shortly after gardai attended the scene.

Mr Duke's body had been bound and bore more than 60 different injuries with a ligature, a white electrical cable with a plug still attached was found around his neck.

He had died from asphyxia, with a secondary factor being a significant loss of blood.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Paul Carney heard evidence from Garda Kieran Murphy.

He said he spotted an Allied Irish Bank ATM card, belonging to Jonathan Duke, lying beside a pool of blood outside Bridge House that evening.

The front door of the apartment complex was ajar and, when he shone his torch into the hallway, he spotted a blood trail. He followed it up the stairs and then heard footsteps overhead.

As he ran up the stairs, he spotted a man he knew and a woman wearing only a vest and underwear.

The woman "stumbled" into Flat 3 and the man immediately slammed the door.

Gardai eventually gained access to the top-floor flat amid concerns someone had been badly injured and required medical attention.

"There was blood on the ground, on the walls, on the landing," Garda Murphy said.

Inside the flat, the woman, who he now knows to be Catherine O'Connor, kept interrupting gardai and was "shouting and abusive".

"I could see she had blood on her hands," the garda added.


The man, who was naked except for a blue robe, later said the blood belonged to "Dukie".

A second officer, Garda Ray Ryan, said he also felt O'Connor had consumed alcohol.

"I noticed she (O'Connor) had drink taken. I also noticed she had blood on her hands and on her feet as well," he said.

In cross-examination with defence counsel, Isobel Kennedy SC, Garda Ryan confirmed that O'Connor had told him "she had been taking magic mushrooms".

Minutes after gardai spoke to the occupants of Flat 3, another officer informed them that a body had been found outside in the River Bandon underneath the stone bridge.


Woman and man charged with murder after Bandon death

November 15, 2011

A man and woman have been charged with murdering a young father-of-one in Bandon, near where an Englishman has also been found killed.

Jonathan Duke, 27, was beaten and his body dumped in the River Bandon, Co Cork, on Sunday night.

Ciprian Grozavu, 37, originally from Romania, and Catherine O’Connor, 35, originally from Kinsale, Co Cork, both with an address at Bridge House, Bandon have been charged with murdering Mr Duke.

They both appeared before Judge James McNulty at a special sitting of Bandon District Court tonight, where evidence was given of their arrest and charging at Bandon garda station.

Det Garda Michael Brosnan said that when charged with murder 35-year-old O'Connor replied: "No".

Garda Kieran Murphy said when similarly charged, 37-year-old Grozavu replied: "I didn't do it".

The two defendants sat quietly through the short hearing tonight after being brought into the court by a large contingent of gardaí.

Ms O'Connor, who was dressed all in black, has a distinctive cross tattooed onto her left cheek. Mr Grozavu was also dressed in black, in a v-necked jumper, pants and brown shoes.

His solicitor Macaire Adams said he was unemployed and free legal aid was granted by Judge McNulty.

Lawyer defending O'Connor Eddie Burke was also granted free legal aid in respect of his client whom he said was receiving a disability allowance for several years.

He said she was on medication and asked the judge to inform the Limerick prison authorities that she would need her medicines. He also asked that she would be psychiatrically assessed "as there would be a history of this with her".

Supt Eddie MacEoin asked that both defendants be remanded in custody and Judge McNulty remanded them both in custody to appear before Bandon District Court on Monday next.

Outside the courthouse a crowd of morethan 300 people gathered to watch the defendants being brought into and out of the building.

Within hours of the discovery of Mr Duke's body, detectives feared John Forrester, originally from the UK, was also dead.

Mr Duke, a local man, had been drinking in a flat in the same building where Mr Forrester had been living before he was attacked.

Mr Forrester, aged in his 40s and living in Ireland for many years, was found dead in the river less than a mile from where Mr Duke was found. He (Mr Forrester) was last seen alive on Saturday night.

The alarm was raised on Sunday night when a passer-by reported two people appearing to dump a body in the river. Gardaí recovered Mr Duke’s body a short while after the alarm was raised at 11pm.

It is believed there had been a drinking session at the flats, known locally as the O’Callaghan flats, over the weekend.

Bandon Mayor Sean O’Donovan said: “The occurrence of such a tragedy has sent shockwaves through the town but I am confident that the people of Bandon will rally together and give support where needed.”

About 40 officers were drafted in to support the double murder investigation including the Garda Dive Team, two forensic units from Dublin and local detectives.

Mr Duke escaped death in June 2009 when he fell from a window in the same block of flats where his murder suspects had been living. He was in hospital for six months.

An out-of-work labourer, he had a seven-year-old daughter.

His mother Michelle and three sisters are said to be devastated by his death. It is understood his mother was working in the Ho Kee Chinese restaurant just feet away from where her son's body was being recovered from the river, unaware of what was unfolding.



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