Dublin woman’s body dismembered and found in nine locations, court told
Patricia O’Connor received a minimum of three blows to the head at her Rathfarnham home – court
Kieran Greene (34) of Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 has pleaded not guilty to murdering Patricia O’Connor (above).
The body of a 61-year-old woman was dismembered into 15 separate parts that were found at nine different locations in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains, a prosecution barrister has told a murder trial.
The Central Criminal Court also heard that Patricia O’Connor received a minimum of three blows to the head with a solid implement at her Rathfarnham home before her body was brought in the boot of her Toyota Corolla car to Co Wexford and buried in a shallow grave.
Her remains were later dug up and her body dismembered using hacksaws and a hatchet over the course of three to four hours. Her head, along with both hands, was later discovered in a plastic bag.
Kieran Greene (34) of Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 has pleaded not guilty to murdering Patricia O’Connor (61) at the same address on May 29th, 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 Mr Greene, knowing or believing him to have committed an arrestable offence, to wit the murder of Patricia O’Connor on May 29th, 2017.
Opening the prosecution’s case on Wednesday, Roisin Lacey SC said the offences alleged against the four accused are “so closely connected in time” and the movements of the individuals involved are important in order to understand the significance of the facts of the case.
Addressing the jury, Ms Lacey said Mrs O’Connor lived in Rathfarnham with her husband Gus, their daughter Louise O’Connor and her partner Kieran Greene, their three young children as well as Louise’s two children with Keith Johnston.
Ms Lacey said the living conditions were quite cramped, which did not lend itself to a happy environment. “Tensions in the house were high and it was stressful at time. There were interpersonal conflicts and tensions between these individuals,” she said.
Ms Lacey said the jury will hear Mr O’Connor and his son Richard went to Rathfarnham Garda Station on June 1st, 2017 to report Mrs O’Connor had been missing since May 29th.
Ms Lacey said that 15 separate body parts were found at nine different locations in the Dublin mountains between June 10th and 14th, 2017. They were found in a disparate region, mostly off the Military Road in Enniskerry, in an area covering approximately 30km, she said, adding that other locations included Glencree, Glenmacnass Waterfall and Sally Gap.
The body parts were initially recovered by members of the public and then by members of the investigation team, said Ms Lacey, adding that every body part of Mrs O’Connor had been found.
The court will also hear evidence, the lawyer said, about a post-mortem being conducted by Deputy State Pathologist Prof Michael Curtis. It was only through a DNA analysis that the body parts were identified as belonging to the deceased.
Ms Lacey said it was recorded by Prof Curtis during the post-mortem that Mrs O’Connor’s head and hands had been found in a plastic bag. It was Prof Curtis’ conclusion that the deceased’s head was struck a minimum of three blows with a solid implement and the cause of death was blunt force trauma to her head, she said.
In relation to the evidence against Mr Greene, Ms Lacey said he attended at Rathfarnham Garda Station on June 12th, and admitted killing his mother-in-law on May 29th or 30th.
Mr Greene told gardaí there had been a dispute in the downstairs bathroom during which Mrs O’Connor hit him with a hurley stick and he hit her back a few times before she fell on the ground, said Ms Lacey. Counsel said Mr Greene further told gardaí that he put Mrs O’Connor’s body in the boot of her Toyota Corolla car and drove up the Dublin mountains, adding he had acted alone at all times and no one in the family was aware of what he had done or even that she was dead.
Mr Greene returned to the garda station the following day, where he said he had not gone straight to the Dublin mountains but had taken her intact body to Wexford and buried her in a shallow grave.
On June 13th, Mr Greene agreed to go with gardaí to Blackwater in Wexford to show them where he buried Mrs O’Connor’s body. Mr Greene was arrested for Mrs O’Connor’s murder after the investigating team found what appeared to be hair in the shallow grave as well as a piece of floral fabric.
Mr Greene told gardaí there had been a row over a cat on May 29th and Mrs O’Connor had stormed out of the house but returned around midnight, when everyone was in bed. She came into the bathroom and struck him with a hurley in the bathroom before he struck her a number of times and she fell and hit head.
He said to gardaí that he brought the body in the boot of a car to Wexford and no other family member saw what had happened. He returned to Wexford on June 9th and dug up the body using a hacksaw before discarding the body in the Dublin mountains. When the discovery of the body parts were in the news, he came to the garda station to confess his part in the killing of Mrs O’Connor, he said.
CCTV footage, Ms Lacey said, will show Mrs O’Connor wearing a floral dress in the front of her garden on May 29th. The barrister said the prosecution case against Mr Greene is that he murdered Mrs O’Connor at some point after 18.35, when she is last seen entering the house from the rear garden.
The court will see CCTV footage of a person carrying a suitcase and leaving the house at 21.34 on the night, she said. This person is wearing a jacket with its hood up, covering their face and hair.
At 22.05, a female enters the rear of the property through the side of the house. It is the prosecution case that this female is Stephanie O’Connor and the person who left the house at 21.34 was Stephanie O’Connor, said Ms Lacey.
She said this was a ruse to pretend that Mrs O’Connor had stormed out of the house carrying a suitcase in order to cover up the arrestable offence of murder. However, Ms Lacey said Mrs O’Connor was already dead in the house at the time.
Ms Lacey said Mrs O’Connor was lying dead in a shallow grave and not yet dismembered when Mr Johnston assisted Mr Greene in purchasing DIY items. He also redecorated the bathroom and told gardaí that at the time of carrying out the repairs he felt a tense atmosphere in the house and had a nagging thought in the back of his head that he could be potentially cleaning up a crime scene, said Ms Lacey.
Louise O’Connor, Stephanie O’Connor and Keith Johnston were arrested by gardaí in September 2017 and denied all involvement in the event, she said.
Mr Greene told gardaí in December 2017 that what he had originally told them was not correct and other family members were involved in the event, said the lawyer. Mr Greene claimed Mrs O’Connor had attacked him with a hurley, he fell to the ground and at this point Gus O’Connor entered the bathroom, carrying a crowbar and hit his wife twice. Mr Greene told gardai that Gus had killed his wife using a crowbar and he (Mr Greene) had taken the blame, outlined Ms Lacey.
Mr Greene told gardaí in his later interviews that he and Mr Johnston had gone to Wexford and Mr Johnston spent three to four hours dismembering Mrs O’Connor’s body, said Ms Lacey. He further told gardaí that Mr Johnston directed him through the Dublin mountains where they disposed of her body parts, she said. Mr Greene also claimed Stephanie O’Connor had dressed up as her grandmother to pretend she was alive, said counsel, adding he had been persuaded to take the blame and had been set up by others.
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 14th on May 29th, 2017 in order to conceal the fact that Patricia O’Connor was dead.
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 9th, 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.
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.
The trial continues on Thursday before Mr Justice Paul McDermott and a jury of six men and six women. It is expected to last between five and seven weeks.