Teenager Cameron Reilly had been socialising with the man accused of his murder the night before he was found dead in a field in Dunleer, Co Louth four years ago, a trial at the Central Criminal Court has heard.
Opening the case for the State on Tuesday, Dean Kelly SC told the jury of seven women and five men that the accused, Aaron Connolly, and the deceased, Mr Reilly were part of a large group of about 15 or 16 young people who were socialising in a field in the town on the night of Friday, May 25th, 2018.
He said the group were friends in the “loose sense” of the word as it often applies to teenagers, with floating groups of alliances.
Aaron Connolly (22), Willistown, Drumcar has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Cameron Reilly (18) at Shamrock Hill, Dunleer on May 26th, 2018.
Mr Kelly told the jury they will hear evidence from pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan that Mr Reilly died as a result of asphyxia and external pressure to the front of his neck.
He said the pathologist will further state that his cause of death was consistent with a chokehold or suffocation as a result of a ligature of some kind being put round his neck.
Mr Kelly said all the young people in the field on the evening of May 25th, 2018 knew each other and were meeting up “doing what young people do”, drinking cans and getting vodka from the off-licence.
The group had a couple of bluetooth speakers and went out to a field where they spent a number of hours hanging out and drinking.
It was an evening that should have been noteworthy “only for the absolute banality of the experience”, counsel said.
However, the following morning at around 8.15am a man out walking his dog noticed a person who he at first believed to be sleeping but subsequently realised was a dead body, later confirmed to be that of Cameron Reilly.
The jury heard Mr Reilly lived with his grandparents in Dunleer, Co Louth but moved between there and his parent’s home in Drogheda. The 18-year-old was a student at DKIT in Dundalk at the time of his death.
Mr Kelly said Dunleer is a small town with a population of approximately 1,800 to 1,900 people situated halfway between Drogheda and Dundalk. The town is unremarkable in the best sense of the word, counsel said, with a church, a couple of pubs and a takeaway.
Cameron Reilly had a wide circle of friends and enjoyed socialising, part of the reason why he gravitated towards Dunleer.
Mr Kelly told the jury there was no doubt that Aaron Connolly was part of the large group that gathered in the field on the night, that he and Cameron Reilly knew each other and that they were part of the group who went to the field. Aaron Connolly was just two weeks older than Cameron Reilly, he said.
Mr Connolly lived with his parents at Wilistown just outside Dunleer at the time and was working in construction.
Prosecuting counsel told the jury that sometime in the afternoon of May 25th Cameron Reilly was at home and told his grandmother he was going out. That would be the last time she saw him alive.
Mr Reilly went to Dundalk with two female friends where they were “knocking around” and got some food before returning to Dunleer.
The three friends then went to the field where it was “pretty clear” a reasonable amount of alcohol had been drunk by some members of the group and it was likely some drugs had been taken and some cannabis smoked, counsel said.
There was no doubt Aaron Connolly was there, that he left and then came back, counsel said, and that he had bought a case of beer and assorted drinks.
“Ultimately they all found themselves there at 8.30pm in the evening.”
Mr Kelly told the jury they would hear from a number of young people who were present on the night.
As the night went on some people left but a number were still there and this group left the field and went to Enzio’s takeaway in town.
Cameron Reilly ordered food at around 12.10am and the group moved away from the takeaway at about 12.40am.
Mr Kelly said it is the prosecution’s case that Cameron Reilly went back to the field with Aaron Connolly and at a point between 12.40am and 1.40am Mr Connolly caused the injuries that the jury will hear about in evidence and that he intentionally brought about the death of Cameron Reilly.
He said prosecution will contend that “having done that he leaves the field on foot and makes his way back to the home of his parents and arrives there at approximately 2.30am”.
He told the jury there could be no doubt that Mr Reilly was alive just before 1am and that he subsequently died violently.
It was for them to decide whether or not Aaron Connolly did it.
Only Cameron Reilly and his killer know exactly what passed between them on the night, what precise words were said and what actions were taken, counsel said.
The trial continues on Wednesday before Mr Justice Tony Hunt and a jury of seven women and five men.