Pair to stand trial at Central Criminal Court for Sliabh Liag cliffs murder

November 20, 2023

Two people have been sent forward for trial at the Central Criminal Court charged with murder after the body of a man was found off Sliabh Liag cliffs on July 3rd last.

Alan Vial and Nikita Burns have been charged with murdering Robert Wilkin.

Vial, 38, appeared in person at Letterkenny District Court while Burns, 21, appeared by videolink from the Dóchas Centre at Mountjoy Prison.

The court was told that the Director of Public Prosecutions has consented to sending both forward for trial to the current sitting of the Central Criminal Court.

Detective Garda Shane Maye told the court he served a book of evidence on Vial this morning in court at 11.18am.

Vial, who wore a blue padded jacket and jeans, did not speak during the hearing.

Judge Eiteain Cunningham read him the alibi warning and assigned his solicitor, Mr Patsy Gallagher, free legal aid and assigned the accused both a senior and junior counsel in the case.

The Judge adjourned the case until the current sitting of the Central Criminal Court on November 28th next.

Detective Sergeant Mattie Murphy told the court he served a book of evidence via Ms Burns’ solicitor, Mr Rory O’Brien at 11.13am this morning.

She too was given the alibi warning and assigned free legal aid as well as a senior and junior counsel.

Her case was also adjourned until November 28th next at the Central Criminal Court.

Vial and Burns are charged that on June 25, 2023, at a place unknown within the State, they did murder one Robert Wilkin (also known as Robin Wilkin).

The body of Mr Wilkin, aged in his 60s and originally from County Tyrone, was found floating in waters off Sliabh Liag on July 3.

Over 200 statements have been taken in the case with detectives piecing together a complex jigsaw of evidence having gathered ‘well in excess’ of 200 exhibits.

Sixteen interviews were conducted with the accused while six crime scenes were designated. Other scenes of interest were also examined by Gardai.

Detective Garda Ciaran O’Brien told an earlier court sitting that there was a ‘huge’ volume of forensic analysis required in the matter.

Vial and Burns were initially arrested on June 26 on suspicion of a serious assault. It followed information received by Gardai which led to a large-scale search around popular tourist destination.

While both were released without charge on that occasion, Vial was then brought before Ballyshannon District Court on July 14 where he was charged with murder while Burns was brought before Letterkenny District Court on August 29 when she was also charged with murder.

Following an extensive search involving Gardai, the Irish Coastguard including Rescue 118 and the Donegal Mountain Rescue Team, a body was recovered in water off the cliffs on July 3.

The body was taken to Letterkenny University Hospital where a full post mortem was carried out by the State Pathologist’s Office.

The findings of that post mortem have not been released for Garda operational reasons.