A witness has told the Cameron Reilly murder trial that he had sexual relations with murder accused Aaron Connolly when they were teenagers but that the defendant told people he was straight.
Friends of Mr Reilly have already given evidence to the trial that the teenager, whose body was found in a field in Dunleer, Co Louth four years ago, confided in them that he was bisexual shortly before his death.
Evidence was heard on Tuesday from witness Jack Conway, who told prosecution counsel Dean Kelly SC that he and Aaron Connolly had sexual relations on a number of occasions when they were teenagers.
Mr Conway told Mr Kelly that he had cousins in Dunleer and through them he was friends with a number of people in the town.
He said he and Aaron Connolly had a sexual encounter at Halloween when they were both 15. Mr Conway said they had been staying at a relatives house and sharing a single bed. Mr Conway said the pair engaged in oral sex and this was initiated by Aaron Connolly.
Mr Conway told Mr Kelly he and Mr Connolly were again intimate when they met in a field “a while after”. Asked by Mr Kelly if they kissed, Mr Conway said no, “because he [Aaron Connolly] didn’t like kissing”.
He told Mr Kelly that he and the accused went on to have about 20 sexual encounters subsequently. Mr Conway said Aaron Connolly would tell people he was straight.
Under cross examination from defence counsel Michael Bowman SC, the witness agreed that he identified as gay and had done from an early age but that other people might not identify as gay until a bit later in life.
Mr Bowman suggested to Mr Conway that he wasn’t intimate with Aaron Connolly at any stage, to which the witness replied: “I don’t understand”.
Mr Bowman put it to the witness that on the spectrum of sexual orientation, people can fall into different ranges, with some people identifying as gay, straight, bi, gender fluid or pansexual, while some people identify as straight but have sexual experiences with men, to which Mr Conway agreed.
“Your evidence is you had sexual intimacy with Aaron Connolly at some stage?” Mr Bowman asked, to which Mr Conway said yes. “You understood him to identify as being straight?” “Yes,” Mr Conway replied.
Asked by Mr Kelly if Aaron Connolly had told him he was straight or gay, Mr Conway said: “I think he told me he was bisexual.”
Aaron Connolly, of Willistown, Drumcar has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Reilly (18) at Shamrock Hill, Dunleer on May 26th, 2018.
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 Cameron 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 Aaron Connolly did it.
The trial has heard that the accused and Mr Reilly had been drinking in a field together with friends on May 25th.
In a witness statement to gardaí, Mr Connolly said that he and Mr Reilly went in separate directions at the end of the night and that after the pair parted, he “never looked back” to see which way Cameron went.
State Pathologist Linda Mulligan also gave evidence today, telling the jury that she conducted the postmortem on Mr Reilly on May 26th, 2018. She told Mr Kelly that the cause of death was asphyxia due to external pressure on the neck with no other contributing factors.
The pathologist said during the postmortem she found evidence of external injury to the neck in the form of abrasions and bruising and there was also evidence of deep bruising around the neck and the hyoid bone.
“All of these features are in keeping with the application of external pressure on the neck. This was the cause of death,” she said. There were no obvious ligature marks or circular bruises identified, Dr Mulligan said, and the injuries sustained were more in keeping with a chokehold or the application of a rough surface implement to the neck.
The pathologist said there was no evidence of any defence type injuries. She said there were bruises evident on the shoulder, head and lip which may have been conducive with a struggle. There was no indication of an overtly sexual component in the death, Dr Mulligan added. Outlining her findings from the postmortem, Dr Mulligan said Mr Reilly was of average stocky build weighing approximately 13 stone and measuring 5 foot 8 inches in height.
She said there was marked congestion on the head and neck by which she meant a kind of reddish colour compared to the rest of the body. In addition, pinpoint haemorrhages were evident in the membranes on the inside of the eyelids and these were more prominent on the left eye, she said. There was also a skin lesion on the left collarbone which was bleeding.
Dr Mulligan said she examined Mr Reilly’s clothing and observed a white fluid stain on the hoodie. There was mild blood-staining over the left shoulder of a T-shirt which was worn under the hoodie, she said.
A CT Scan carried out following the postmortem showed no evidence of a fracture to the hyoid bone, a small bone located in the upper part of the neck. Samples of blood and urine were also taken and sent for toxicology testing. The results showed mild alcohol intoxication, Dr Mulligan said, and no other drugs were detected. She said the alcohol was being actively metabolised at the time of death. This suggested Mr Reilly had been drinking relatively recently but had probably stopped drinking in the hour or two before his death.
The pathologist confirmed death occurred because of asphyxia due to external pressure to the neck with no contributing factors. Under cross examination from Mr Bowman, Dr Mulligan agreed there were a number of contributing factors involved in how a body metabolises alcohol.
She agreed it would be very difficult to say when Mr Reilly had had his last drink. She agreed with Mr Bowman that if the body was left out it would become cold to touch in about six to eight hours but said this was a very inexact science affected by a lot of different things.
She agreed she had observed a number of acne type spots on Mr Reilly’s left collarbone and head area and that they had bled. “So something came into contact and caused the spots to bleed,” Mr Bowman asked to which Dr Mulligan said yes, that would be a reasonable assumption.
Mr Bowman asked the pathologist if the red marking under the chin was as a result of that part of the chin coming into contact with possibly a hard or rough surface, to which she replied yes. “Upon further examination you’re dealing with asphyxia? It doesn’t appear to be a ligature or manual strangulation?” Mr Bowman asked. “That’s correct, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence of that,” Dr Mulligan replied.
The court also heard evidence from Dean Kenny, who was Megan Smith’s boyfriend at the time. In her direct evidence to the trial last week, Ms Smith said Cameron Reilly was her best friend.
Mr Kenny told Mr Kelly he got a lift to Dunleer at around 11pm on May 25th after first spending time in a pub in Ardee with some friends. He said he went to the field to meet Megan. He said the group were talking and singing before the group went to the chippy.
He and Megan got into an argument while they were there, he said. He said they went back to Caroline Conlan’s house where he and Megan got into “a bit of a scuffle”. He said he was there for a few minutes before he went to his friends Stephen’s house who lived in an apartment in town. He said he wanted to use Stephen’s phone to call home but after ringing all four buzzers, there was no answer and he went back the way he came to Caroline’s house. Mr Kenny said he knocked the door and he and Megan eventually went across the road to her house.
The witness said she went upstairs to bed and he slept on the couch before her mother woke him up at around 4am and he went up to Megan. Asked by Mr Kelly why he didn’t tell gardaí about his trip up to Stephen’s place, Mr Kenny said he was young and afraid and “didn’t want to be falsely accused of anything”.
Under cross examination, Michael Bowman, defending, put it to Mr Kenny that he had given a false account to gardaí of his movements on the night. Mr Kenny said “kinda” but added he had apologised and gave another statement on June 15.
Mr Bowman said Caroline Conlan had given evidence that he was being “very aggressive”. “She has given evidence that she saw you off your head on drink and drugs but had never seen you like that before”.
Mr Kenny replied: “I don’t know what to say to that to be honest”. Asked why he didn’t tell gardaí the truth about leaving the house, Mr Kenny said: “I was young and innocent, I don’t know what else to say to you about that”.
The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice Tony Hunt and a jury of seven women and five men.