Jury in trial of man who beat partner’s mother to death should have been allowed consider provocation, court told

Kieran Greene was found guilty in 2020 of killing Patricia O’Connor, cutting up her body and disposing of it in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains

A man who beat his partner’s mother to death and chopped up and scattered her body around the Dublin and Wicklow mountains in 2017 may have been subjected to a “slow burn provocation” similar to that suffered by victims of domestic abuse, a lawyer has told the Court of Appeal.

Kieran Greene’s lawyers have argued that the jury at his 2020 trial should have been allowed to consider that Patricia O’Connor provoked Greene (37) into killing her by assaulting him and threatening his children following years of difficulties between the pair.

Mrs O’Connor’s siblings, friends, work colleagues and her son Richard O’Connor denied after the trial that she would have said the things Kieran Greene claimed. They accused him of “spiteful lies” and said they were hurt by how her character was “cruelly tarnished” by what he said.

Her siblings wrote in a statement to the court: “The people who truly knew her, her sisters, brothers, friends, work colleagues, her neighbours, will defend her kind, caring, loving nature; a jolly woman who sang out loud as she went about her day.”


At Thursday’s hearing before the three-judge appeals court Dominic McGinn SC, representing Greene, said that in his first Garda interviews Greene claimed that before the killing, Mrs O’Connor attacked him leaving him shocked and dazed.

Greene said she told him she wanted him dead and then went through all the members of the household including Greene’s children saying she wanted them all dead.

Mr McGinn told the three-judge court that the “history of animus” between them had left Greene in a similar position to a victim of domestic abuse where the cumulative effect of years of abuse can result in a relatively small event leading to a total loss of self control.

Mr McGinn said the story told by Greene, “built up a picture that the deceased was a constant thorn in his side and the final straw included talking about his children and what she would do to them.”

Counsel said the thrust of what Greene had told gardaí was that he was shocked when she attacked him, that he was dazed and that his violence was spontaneous.

In cases where a jury is allowed to consider provocation, they can find the accused guilty of manslaughter instead of murder if they find it is reasonably possible that the accused was provoked by the deceased into a sudden and total loss of self-control.

In Greene’s trial the judge refused to allow the jury to consider provocation, saying there was no evidence that Greene had suffered a total loss of self-control. Mr McGinn said the judge was wrong.

He said there was enough evidence from Greene’s Garda interviews to suggest he was provoked and it should have been left to the jury to make the final decision.

In February 2020 the deceased’s daughter Louise O’Connor, her granddaughter Stephanie O’Connor and Stephanie’s father Keith Johnston were each found guilty of impeding the apprehension or prosecution of Greene, who is Louise’s former partner.

Mrs O’Connor’s husband Gus O’Connor, who is now deceased, pleaded guilty to reporting his wife missing to gardaí while knowing that she was already dead.

On Thursday, Mr McGinn argued that Greene should not have been put on trial alongside Louise, Stephanie and Johnston. He said that the wording of the charges against them, which stated that Greene was the murderer, was prejudicial to Greene.

He said the difficulty could have been avoided by separate trials or by removing Greene’s name from the other indictments. “When it’s there in black and white, that is prejudicial,” Mr McGinn said.

Mr McGinn also told the court that his client’s primary defence was that Gus O’Connor was actually responsible for the murder. He explained that after admitting to killing Mrs O’Connor in his first Garda interviews, Greene later retracted that statement, saying he had lied to protect Gus O’Connor, who he said was the real killer.

At trial, Greene’s lawyers were refused permission to read to the jury a statement given by Gus O’Connor to gardaí which they said showed he had given differing accounts of his relationship with his wife.

Mr McGinn said the judge should have allowed this hearsay evidence as it showed that Gus could “blow with the wind and say what suited him at the time”. Counsel said this would have fitted Greene’s narrative, “that Mr O’Connor was capable of killing his wife and blaming Mr Greene”.

Further grounds of appeal included that the judge should have allowed the jury to consider finding Greene not guilty of murder but guilty of helping to dis2pose of Mrs O’Connor’s body. Mr McGinn also argued that the judge erred by refusing to allow the defence to call a psychiatrist who would have said that Greene’s IQ scores put him in the lowest 3 per cent in the country for intellectual ability.

He said that this could have allowed the jury to understand why Greene was “imprecise” about the sequence of events around the murder. He said the jury could also have assessed whether someone at his intellectual level could have been persuaded to lie by someone more intelligent and manipulative than him.

Roisin Lacey SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, responded that there is no evidence that people with low IQs are more likely to lie. Going through the appeal grounds one by one, she said the alternative verdict of helping to dispose of the body could only have arisen if the jury first acquitted Greene of murder, which they did not.

She said the hearsay evidence of Gus O’Connor was not admissible. In relation to provocation, Ms Lacey said the trial judge was correct in finding that there was no evidence that Greene had suffered a total loss of self control.

Mr Justice George Birmingham, presiding, with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, will deliver their judgment at a later date.