Two get life sentences for double murder
TWO MEN, who have been found guilty of a double murder in Limerick, have been given mandatory life sentences at the Central Criminal Court following a three-week trial.
The victims were a man and a woman in a suburban home in Limerick. No motive was given for the murders during the trial.
The jury in the trial of Patrick O’Brien and Thomas Stewart returned their unanimous verdict of guilty on all four counts yesterday afternoon after an hour and four minutes deliberating.
Mr Justice George Birmingham told the jury they had come to a “perfectly proper verdict” before sentencing the two men to two life sentences each to run concurrently.
The men showed no emotion as the verdict was read out while the family of the victims sobbed and said “Thank you”.
Stewart then turned to family members and said “Keep your heads up: we are innocent men”, before both men were led away by prison officers.
First cousins O’Brien (33) of Glanntan, Golflinks Road, Castletroy, Limerick and Stewart (29) of The Cedar, Briarfield, Castletroy, Limerick had pleaded not guilty to the murders of Desmond Kelly (23) and Breda Waters (28) on January 9th, 2011 at O’Malley Park in Limerick.
Father of three Mr Kelly and mother of three Ms Waters were shot dead in “cold-blooded murder” in a house in O’Malley Park at about 9am by O’Brien and Stewart.
It was the prosecution’s case, which relied on circumstantial evidence, witness statements and extensive CCTV footage, that the two men made their way to O’Malley Park after they asked Stewart’s brother Patrick and cousin Ian O’Leary for a lift to the Southill area in Limerick.
Both Patrick Stewart and Mr O’Leary refused to drive them to the area and left them at the Roxboro roundabout. Patrick Stewart had told gardaí he saw what looked “like an iron bar or gun” in the sleeve of O’Brien’s coat as the two accused sat in the back seat of Mr O’Leary’s car.
O’Brien and Stewart were seen on CCTV cameras outside a shebeen at about 8.30am and further footage showed them making their way through O’Malley Park towards Mr Kelly’s house.
O’Brien, who has 32 previous convictions, and Stewart, who has 30 previous convictions, entered Mr Kelly’s house as the lock on the front door had been broken. Mr Kelly, who was in the kitchen, was shot in the right side of his head at close range.
The men then went upstairs to a front bedroom where Ms Waters was and shot her in the neck from the doorway. Both victims died instantly, according to State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy.
Mr Kelly’s sister Theresa was in a back bedroom minding his five-month-old baby and both were unharmed. It was Theresa who alerted gardaí and emergency services to the shootings.
Evidence was given during the trial that Mr Kelly had been drinking in his home the night before the shootings, along with Ms Waters, her sister Martina and a friend, Mattie Quinn.
Mr Quinn and Martina left the house at about 2.30am and stayed in Mr Quinn’s uncle’s house.
Theresa was babysitting his baby daughter in the house.
Further evidence was given by Andrew Donlon, who said Stewart and O’Brien called to his house at about 8am to collect a “yolk” (a gun), which Stewart had asked him to mind several months previously.
Speaking after the sentencing, Mr Kelly’s younger brother Jonathan (21) said:“Today was a good day in a lifetime of bad days and I am so delighted that those animals are going to rot in prison . . . justice has been served.”