Well-wishers surround Callalys as O'Reilly remains impassive


IT IS more than four years since Joe O’Reilly murdered his wife Rachel, but he still has not lost his pulling power. A queue formed outside the Court of Criminal Appeal some 45 minutes before the verdict on his appeal was to be heard yesterday.

Most of those in the queue were reporters, indicating the media fascination with the man who appeared on The Late Late Showwith his in-laws appealing for help to find his wife’s killer. Less than three years later, he was convicted of Rachel O’Reilly’s murder.

The court was full some 15 minutes before the judgment was due and the noise levels rose as Rachel O’Reilly’s family chatted and gardaí and barristers gathered at the back of the court.

Rachel’s mother Rose Callaly, her father Jim and siblings Ann, Declan, Anthony and Paul had gathered in the Four Courts numerous times before, but this was different. The verdict was being heard in Court 6, a bright, air-filled room, in contrast to the dark, stuffy room where the trial was heard. And Joe O’Reilly would be arriving into court from the Midlands Prison.

When a handcuffed O’Reilly walked in, flanked by two prison officers, all heads swivelled to look at him. A hush fell on the court as the handcuffs were released.

But Rachel O’Reilly’s mother Rose Callaly did not turn her head to see the man who had been convicted of her daughter’s murder. She stared straight ahead as a pale-looking O’Reilly winked at his brother Derek, sat back and placed one foot on his knee.

He stood to attention when the three judges took their seats shortly afterwards. Four minutes later, the Chief Justice John Murray dismissed all five grounds of the appeal, saying they were not well-founded.

All eyes turned to O’Reilly again, but he remained expressionless, apart from an almost imperceptible nod of his head and a pursing of his lips.

Rachel O’Reilly’s sister Ann breathed out loudly, as though she had been holding her breath for the result. She turned to her mother and kissed her, and suddenly the Callaly family was surrounded by well-wishers.

Behind them, Rachel O’Reilly’s birth mother Teresa Lowe was surrounded by her family and they hugged each other with feeling.

Joe O’Reilly sat back down with a copy of the 34-page judgment. He reached for his glasses and began reading, as though he was at home perusing the football results. He did not raise his head as the Callalys passed by him.

His brother then made his way towards him and gave an emphatic “no” when asked by a reporter whether he would be commenting outside the court.

Rose Callaly looked younger and lighter as she stood outside to speak to the media. Her voice didn’t falter as she made her dignified thank-yous to the Garda and Victim Support, and to the media for covering the case.

Rachel’s father Jim looked heartbroken as his wife spoke about the realisation that they would never put the death behind them. After saying a few words he took out his handkerchief and wiped his eyes. “God bless you,” he said, as the family left.