I've been pretty busy over the past few weeks with the day job. There have been a run of big murder trials on the Dublin's Four Courts and I've been covering them busily for the Sunday Independent, as well as blogging about my daily grind. At the moment I'm covering a particuarly grim trial - that of Ronnie Dunbar (also known as McManus) who's accused of murdering 14-year-old Sligo girl Melissa Mahon.
Melissa was a very troubled teen. In the last weeks of her life she had been taken into care after accusing her father of sexually abusing her and her mother of beating her. The account of her last weeks is one of a girl careering out of control. Today we heard from two teenage friends of hers that she was pregnant where she died. One of the more disturbing allegations at the centre of the prosecution case is that the accused man, a 44-year-old father of five, was the father. We have already heard evidence that his daughter told his then girlfriend that he was sleeping with Melissa and the baby was his.
The most disturbing accounts so far came from Dunbar's two younger daughters who claim to have seen their father kill Melissa and to have helped dump the body in a River near Lough Gill, a well known beauty spot. Her remains were not found until almost 18 months after her disappearance from care in September 2006.
From all accounts so far, her relationship with the accused was worryingly close. Quite apart from the allegations of a sexual relationship between the two, she obviously idolised him to such an extent that social workers at the care home she was admitted to obtained a court order to limit her contact with him. According to one witness, Melissa thought she was the reincarnation of Cleopatra with Dunbar as her reincarnated king.
The trial has several more weeks to run so we are no where near the end of the story yet. This is a severaly shortened break down of the evidence so far, there are more details on my website if you're interested.
I've been a little distracted this week because my book, The Devil in the Red Dress is going on sale in the UK. It's been available in Ireland since November last year but this is it's first excursion further afield. I can't help but be a little nervous about how it will be received but that's something I'll only learn with time. The good news is that it is finally going live on Amazon.co.uk which will help it's availability no end.
I'll try and be a more regular visitor here in the future but now I have to get back to the day job. There's a deadline looming and, as they say, not a child in the house washed.