Daughter denied she left house to get ‘permanent peace’ from mother
Patricia O’Connor’s dismembered body found at nine different locations, trial told
Louise O’Connor (41), of Millmount Court, Dundrum Road, Dublin 14, at court on Tuesday. Photograph: Collins Courts
A woman accused of impeding the investigation into her mother’s alleged murder denied to gardaí that she had left their house on the night of the killing to get “permanent peace”.
Asked by interviewing detectives why her then partner was seen on CCTV footage closing the curtains when she and her children left the house to go to the park, the mother-of-five replied: “Why you asking me, maybe he is dancing around naked after the shower”.
“If you are saying we left so he could do something, you’re sadly mistaken,” she told gardaí. She denied that she had discussed killing her mother with members of her family.
The jury was on Tuesday listening to the two final interviews given by Louise O’Connor, who is the daughter of the deceased Patricia O’Connor, to gardaí on September 3rd, 2017.
The deceased’s daughter Louise O’Connor (41) and granddaughter Stephanie O’Connor (22), both of Millmount Court, Dundrum Road, Dublin 14, and Louise O’Connor’s ex-partner Keith Johnston (43), of Avonbeg Gardens, Tallaght, Dublin 24 are all charged with impeding the apprehension or prosecution of Kieran Greene, knowing or believing him to have committed an arrestable offence, to wit the murder of Patricia O’Connor (61) on May 29th, 2017. They deny the charges.
It is the prosecution’s case that at no point in time in CCTV footage can Stephanie O’Connor be seen as herself leaving Mountainview Park on the night of May 29th and that in order to cover up the alleged murder she dressed up as her grandmother as “a ruse” to pretend that Mrs O’Connor had stormed out of the house carrying a suitcase. It is the State’s contention that Mrs O’Connor was already dead in the house at the time. Ms O’Connor denies the charge.
Evidence has been given that the body of Mrs O’Connor was dismembered into 15 separate parts that were found at nine different locations over a 30km range in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains between June 10 and 14, 2017.
Detective Garda David Connolly told prosecution counsel Roisin Lacey SC that he conducted the fourth interview with Louise O’Connor at Bray Garda station on the morning of September 3rd, 2017, during which she was shown CCTV footage of people entering and leaving the house at Mountainview Park on May 29th and 30th.
The court has heard that Louise O’Connor was arrested the previous day on suspicion of murdering her mother Mrs O’Connor at her home on May 29th.
In her fourth interview, Louise O’Connor told gardaí that the person seen closing the back door on May 29th at 10.06pm could have been herself or her daughter Stephanie O’Connor or Mr Greene. “I’m guessing it was one of us as we were the only ones in the house,” she said, adding that all she could see in the CCTV footage was a white blur.
Gardaí asked the mother-of-five about the alleyway at the side of the house and she said she used it every single day.
Louise O’Connor said she did not know who had come in the back door of the house at 10.06pm that night and all she could see in CCTV footage was a “big splodge”. “It’s Houdini or someone, I don’t know who it is,” she said.
Gardaí told Louise O’Connor that the person who came through the back door at 10.06pm was the same person who had left earlier in the evening with a suitcase.
Louise O’Connor was previously shown a clip from her neighbour’s CCTV footage on May 29th at 9.34pm, which she said looked like her mother walking out of the house and carrying a suitcase. She previously told gardaí that she had followed her mother out of the house after hearing the door slam and saw her mother going down the road.
Gardaí showed Louise O’Connor a similar suitcase, which had been found in Augustine O’Connor’s bedroom during a search of Mountainview Park. She agreed the suitcases were identical and said it could have been the same suitcase seen in the CCTV footage.
Gardaí put it to Louise O’Connor that the person seen leaving the house in CCTV footage at 9.34pm had their hood up. “I don’t know why, maybe they have sore ears, maybe they are self-conscious,” she said.
A piece of fabric with a floral design on it was shown to Louise O’Connor and gardaí told the accused woman that it had been found in a shallow grave in Wexford, where her mother was buried. Gardaí then put it to Louise O’Connor that the person seen leaving the house in CCTV footage was not wearing a dress. “They could be wearing it under their clothes,” she replied, agreeing with gardaí that it looked like the design from her mother’s dress.
Asked by interviewing detectives why her then partner was seen on CCTV footage closing the curtains at 6.52pm, when she and her children left the house to go to the park, the mother-of-five replied: “Why you asking me, maybe he is dancing around naked after the shower”.
“Is closing curtains against the law?” she asked gardaí. Detectives told her that it was “not the norm”. “If you are saying we left so he could do something, you’re sadly mistaken,” she told gardaí.
The court has heard that Louise O’Connor and her children left Mountainview to go to the park and Tesco at 6.53pm on May 29th and returned to the house at 9.04pm that night.
Detectives put it to her that they believed Mrs O’Connor was dead when she and the children got back from Tesco. “How could she be, she walked out,” she replied.
Gardaí also put it to Louise O’Connor that it was her daughter Stephanie walking out of the house at 9.34pm carrying the suitcase. “That’s my ma walking out,” she replied, adding that if her mother had been dead when she got home, she would have “punched Kieran’s lights out”.
Detectives also put it to Louise O’Connor that her daughter Stephanie had left the house at 9.34pm wearing Mrs O’Connor’s jacket. “She didn’t, that’s me ma’s,” she said, adding that her daughter was not involved.
She agreed with gardaí that a figure in CCTV footage could have been Mr Greene picking up tools from the garden on May 30th at 00.39.
CCTV footage showed a car reversing into the driveway on the morning of May 30th at 5.54am. Louise O’Connor said she thought this was Mr Greene in the CCTV footage saying: “That’s obviously when he took my ma and came back. That’s not a nice thing to see, that’s f**king horrible.”
She called Mr Greene “a f**king nut”, who she said had destroyed their family.
In cross-examination, Detective Garda Connolly agreed with Michael Bowman SC who is defending Louise O’Connor alongside John Griffin BL, that the CCTV footage did not show someone walking out the front door of Mountainview or someone walking up the side lane of the house.
Sergeant Brian Hanley told Ms Lacey that he conducted the fifth interview on September 3rd, 2017. Gardaí asked Louise O’Connor why she had left the house to go to the park on May 29th at 6.53pm and she replied that she wanted “to get peace from my mum”. Sgt Hanley asked Louise O’Connor if they had left the house to get “permanent peace”. “No, she [Patricia O’Connor] was freaking out over the cat,” she said.
Gardaí put it to Louise O’Connor that she knew the person who walked out the door was not her mother. “I know my mother was alive when I walked in that house,” she replied.
She denied to gardaí that the person walking out the front door at 9.34pm was Stephanie O’Connor. “I know my mother left the house, I heard her shouting,” she replied.
Gardaí put it to her that this was “a web of lies”. “I know what I saw and heard,” she replied, adding that she did not find out what happened her mother until two weeks later.
She told gardaí that her daughter did not dress up as her mother and denied that she had discussed killing her mother with Mr Greene, her daughter Stephanie or her father Gus.
Slept on the couch
She also denied that Stephanie had spoken to her about dressing up as Mrs O’Connor.
“If I had slept on the couch that night, I would have heard what had happened and things would be different,” she said. She also denied seeing her mother wrapped up in blankets in the house on the night of May 29th.
On Tuesday afternoon, the jury heard Stephanie O’Connor was arrested on September 2nd, also on suspicion of murdering her grandmother.
In her first interview that day, Stephanie O’Connor told gardaí that she had been trying to find a job since she left school and helped with the children around the house. She said that her family never come in the back door of the house, they always use the front door. She said she did not know whose idea it was to go to the park on the evening of May 29th.
She said she assumed her grandmother would come back the following morning and it was a surprise to her when she was not in the house the following morning. “I knew she left before when I was a kid so I thought she would be ok,” she told gardaí.
The “truth came out” two weeks later when Mr Greene “broke down”, she said. “That is when I found out, Kieran was telling my mam, that time was surreal,” she said. Stephanie O’Connor said she felt “confused, shocked and angry”, when she found out what had happened to her grandmother and had avoided the newspapers.
Stephanie said her mother told her that Mr Greene had said Mrs O’Connor attacked him with a hurley and he took it off her in self-defence and hit her. She told detectives she heard Mr Greene had taken her grandmother in a panic to Wexford and then up the Wicklow mountains. “I don’t know what happened, I don’t want to know but I heard she wasn’t in one piece,” she said. Her grandmother “did get angry very easy”, she said, but she was “amazing too.”
In her third interview, Stephanie said she was aware her neighbour’s CCTV camera covered their front and back garden. Stephanie identified her grandmother wearing a dress with a pattern on it in CCTV footage taken on May 29th, which she described as looking like “peacock feathers”. She called her grandmother “plump” but explained that she had a lot of muscle saying: “She does gardening so is well able”.
Bad day of fighting
Gardaí asked Stephanie if they would normally go to the park at that time in the evening. “No but it had been a bad day of fighting, we all needed to go out and cool our heads,” she said, adding that they were not in a hurry to get out of the house and they were grateful to be getting out of the atmosphere.
Louise O’Connor has pleaded not ) guilty to agreeing to or acquiescing in her daughter Stephanie O’Connor disguising herself as Patricia O’Connor at Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 on May 29th, 2017 in order to conceal the fact that Patricia O’Connor was dead.
Stephanie O’Connor has pleaded not ) guilty to disguising herself as Mrs O’Connor at Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 at a point in time after her murder on May 29th, 2017 in order to conceal the fact that she was already dead.
Mr Greene (34) has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mrs O’Connor at her home in Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 on May 29th, 2017.
The Central Criminal Court trial has heard that while in custody, Mr Greene changed his account of killing and dismembering his partner’s mother, six months after he was charged with her murder.
Evidence has been given that Mr Greene walked into Rathfarnham Garda Station on June 12th, 2017 and told a detective that he had done “something terrible” and dismembered the body of Mrs O’Connor on his own. However, the accused man told gardaí on December 9th that he had taken “the rap” and felt he was being set-up, as his girlfriend Louise O’Connor subsequently started going back out with her ex-boyfriend Keith Johnston.
Mr Johnston has pleaded not guilty to assisting Mr Greene in the purchase of various implements at Woodie’s, Mr Price, B&Q and Shoe Zone, Tallaght, Dublin 24 on June 9, 2017, which were to be used in the concealment of the remains of Mrs O’Connor.
Mr Johnston also denies engaging in the refurbishment of a bathroom at Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 between May 31st, 2017 and June 9th, 2017, in order to destroy or conceal any evidence relating to the murder of Mrs O’Connor.
The trial continues tomorrow before Mr Justice Paul McDermott and a jury of six men and six women.