A witness has described to the Central Criminal Court the moment he found the dead body of a teenager while taking his dogs for a morning walk.
“I looked up and saw the body. I walked over and said hello, thinking it was someone who was drunk and fell asleep,” witness David Shiels told the trial of the man accused of murdering Cameron Reilly (18).
Dr Alan Moran, who pronounced Mr Reilly dead at the scene, also gave evidence on Wednesday that gardaí made him aware of a fabric strip that was found 100 yards from the body in a field at Shamrock Hill in Dunleer, Co Louth.
In response to cross examination by defence counsel for Aaron Connolly (22), Willistown, Drumcar, Dr Moran confirmed that the strip “may have been consistent” with marks he observed on the neck of Mr Reilly.
Mr Connolly has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Reilly at Shamrock Hill, Dunleer on May 26th, 2018.
The court heard evidence from Mr Shiels, a resident of the area, who told counsel for the prosecution, Dean Kelly SC, that he was walking his dogs in the green area of the estate that morning when he discovered Mr Reilly’s body.
He said the deceased was lying on his back and there was “discolouring and bruising” on the right-hand side of the face, neck and throat. He also said there were “a lot of scrape marks” on the front of the neck and the young man’s hands were “very white and clean”.
“I knew he was dead,” said Mr Shiels. He said he returned home and told his wife he had found a body in the field, before he went to the house of his neighbours, who knew first aid.
Catherine Shiels gave evidence that when her husband told her he had found a body, she initially thought he was mistaken, and it was just someone who had fallen asleep in the field. She told the court that when she saw the body, she went into shock. She said she saw scratches on the deceased’s neck and bruising on the side of his face. She described the body as “chalky white” and “swelled”. She told the court that her neighbour, Jean Lynch initiated CPR on Mr Reilly, but his lips were blue, and he was “stone cold”.
Ms Lynch gave evidence that she observed the deceased’s chin area was “scuffed-looking and red”.
In response to cross examination from defence counsel Michael Bowman SC, Ms Lynch confirmed that the “scuffs or scrape marks” on the deceased’s chin suggested there had been contact with a hard surface, and the marks were not something that would have been caused by clothing.
The court heard from friends of Mr Reilly that a group of people gathered in the field on the night, where alcohol and cannabis were consumed.
Rebecca McGuinness gave evidence that she, Mr Reilly, and Adam Fitzgerald went to the field at about 9pm to meet friends. She said there were between seven and 10 people in the field, including Mr Connolly. She said that there was also another group of people in the corner of the field. She gave evidence that several people were drinking. She said she left around 12.10am, and Mr Reilly gave her a hug and a kiss. She said she did not see him again. She did not know the other group of people in the field, but she described them as “an older group”.
Adam Fitzgerald gave evidence that he was in the field with friends, and the accused was also present. He confirmed that some people were “smoking weed” in the field. He said everyone left the field at the same time, with some of them then going to a local takeaway, including Mr Reilly. He confirmed that the accused was already drinking in the field when he arrived that night.
In his opening speech at the beginning of the trial, Mr Kelly said it is the prosecution’s case that at a point between 12.40am and 1.40am on May 26th, Mr Connolly intentionally brought about the death of Mr Reilly. He told the jury there could be no doubt that Mr Reilly was alive just before 1am and that he subsequently died violently. Counsel said it was for them to decide whether or not Mr Connolly did it.
The trial continues on Friday before Mr Justice Tony Hunt and the jury of seven women and five men.