Chainsaw canal murder accused checked ferry times before the killing, trial hears

Laptop found in defendant’s home ‘searched sailings’

A murder trial has heard that a laptop seized from the accused man's home was used to search ferry times hours before he admits shooting his friend and dismembering his body there.

A cyber crime expert gave the evidence to the Central Criminal Court on Wednesday.

Paul Wells Snr (50) of Barnamore Park, Finglas has admitted shooting dead fellow Dubliner Kenneth O'Brien and dismembering his body. However, the father-of-five has pleaded not guilty to murdering the 33-year-old at his home in Barnamore Park on 15th or 16th January, 2016.

He claims the deceased had wanted him to murder Mr O’Brien’s partner so that he could take their child back to Australia, where he had previously lived.


He told gardaí that Mr O’Brien had brought a gun to his house for this purpose on the evening of the 15th but that he didn’t want to do it. He said this resulted in a scuffle between them, that the gun fell, they both tried to get it, but that he got to it first and shot his friend in the back of the head.

He said that he then panicked, ‘chopped him into pieces’ with a chainsaw Mr O’Brien had lent him, put his torso into Mr O’Brien’s suitcase and dumped it in the Grand Canal.

He said he later disposed of further remains in the canal, forgetting about Mr O’Brien’s hands until 18th January, when he said he discarded them in Islandbridge. The hands were never recovered.

Detective Garda Cliff Cullen of the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau testified yesterday that he examined a forensic image of an Acer laptop seized from Mr Wells' home.

He told Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, that the laptop had a password-protected user profile called ‘Paul’. He said he examined it using forensic software, including a tool called Axiom.

“Axiom will extract all the internet activity present on a machine,” he explained.

Outdoor cameras

He confirmed that search terms used around 4pm on 15th January included: 'Irish Ferries times from Dublin' and 'Irish Ferries Timetable'.

He was also able to say that the user profile, Paul, had visited the Irish Ferries Website around that time. It had accessed a number of pages within that website, including ferry schedules for ‘UK to France from Ireland’ ‘Rosslare to Cherbourg’ and ‘Dublin to Holyhead’.

The jury also heard that the CCTV system in the home shared by Mr O’Brien, his partner and child had stopped recording a day or two beforehand.

Detective Garda Declan O'Brien was being cross-examined by the defence in relation to the system.

He agreed with Michael O’Higgins SC that the system had four outdoor cameras. The system had recorded continuously from at least three of those cameras from midnight on 7th January until it stopped at 4.32am on 13th January. It had come back on for just over a minute before midday on 14th January.

That was the last entry of recorded CCTV, he agreed.

He was then re-examined by Mr Gillane.

“You used a phrase there, ‘stopped’, as opposed to ‘turned off’,” he said.

“Yes, there’s nothing being recorded. The screen goes blank,” he said. “There’s no visible footage.”

Mr Gillane is expected to close the prosecution case on Thursday morning, after Mr O’Higgins reserved his opportunity to cross-examine Detective Garda Cullen until then.

The trial continues.