Psychiatric care for Phelan accused

A lorry driver charged with the murder of pregnant nanny Aoife Phelan is to receive psychiatric treatment in prison.

Up to 100 onlookers stood in silence outside Portlaoise District Court as Robert Corbet was brought before a special sitting.

The court heard the 24-year-old, of Sheffield, Timahoe Road, on the outskirts of the town, said “no” and shook his head when charged with murdering Ms Phelan on October 25, the day she disappeared.

Her badly beaten body was found hidden in a bin buried in a pit at the back of a property on the outskirts of the Co Laois town on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old, who was four months pregnant, went missing just over a fortnight ago.

Corbet, who knew the victim, was arrested twice this week over the killing before he was charged.

Judge Catherine Staines remanded him in custody to Cloverhill Prison and he will reappear in court in a week.

The judge agreed to an application by solicitor Declan Breen that Corbet be given psychiatric attention in prison.

Dozens of local people lined Main Street in Portlaoise as Corbet was taken to the courthouse in an unmarked garda car.

Corbet is charged with the murder of Ms Phelan at an area known as Capoley, Portlaoise.

Dressed in a black trouser suit and black-and-white striped shirt, Corbet – a tall man with a beard and a mass of curly brown hair – did not speak during the short hearing.

Detective Sergeant John Healy said he charged Corbet at 11.27pm yesterday in Portlaoise Garda station.

“He shook his head and said ’No’,” the detective added.

Mr Breen requested his client be given psychiatric attention and legal aid.

Superintendent Yvonne Lundon objected, adding: “The defendant has his own haulage business.”

Judge Staines ordered that a statement of means be prepared ahead of his next court appearance, in Cloverhill courthouse next Thursday, when the application will be dealt with.

Two men heckled and shouted abuse at Corbet as he left the courthouse, with one chasing the unmarked car for a short distance.

Ms Phelan, who worked in the town as a live-in nanny, was one of 12 brothers and sisters born and raised in the townland of Cashel in the village of Ballyroan, less than five miles from where she was found dead.

Ms Phelan’s grief-stricken parents Michael and Betty, and their other children, have been comforted by scores of relatives and friends.

A memorial service was held last night at the local parish church, St Patrick’s in Ballyroan, to mark two weeks since her disappearance.

Ms Phelan’s funeral will be held at 2pm tomorrow in the church.

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Written by cusackd