Man killed in dispute over family home, Cork murder trial hears

Helen Jones and her then partner Keith O’Hara accused of killing Paul Jones in 2019

A man who was found with more than 20 stab wounds at a house in Cork was killed by his sister and her partner due a dispute over the inheritance of the family home, a court has been told.

Prosecution counsel, Siobhan Lankford SC told the jury at the trial of Helen Jones (53) and her then partner Keith O'Hara (43) at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork that the State believed that they had a clear motive for the murder of Ms Jones' brother, Paul.

Ms Jones and Mr O'Hara, both of Cahergal Ave, Mayfield, Cork, deny murdering Paul Jones (55) at his home on Bandon Road in Cork on September 4th, 2019.

Ms Jones also denies a charge of aggravated burglary and Mr O’Hara denies a charge of burglary on the same occasion.


Ms Lankford, outlining the evidence that the State expects to call over the next four weeks, told the jury of seven men and five women that they would present evidence of what they believe to a motive for the killing related to the inheritance of the house at Cahergal Avenue.

She said the prosecution would allege that there had been a dispute over the property since 2015 when Ms Jones’s father left a will in which he bequeathed the property to his sons, Liam and Paul. The will contained a proviso that Ms Jones could remain in the property until she married.

There was a court case about the property in 2018, she said.

“Liam and Paul brought the case trying to evict Helen Jones from 27 Cahergal Avenue. It was settled on the basis she would vacate and be paid a certain amount out of the sale of the house.

“But despite the case being settled, there was ongoing acrimony,” said Ms Lankford, adding that the state would allege the acrimony extended to the auctioneer handling the sale who received a phone call the week before Mr Jones was killed, telling him to take down the for sale signs.

‘Bad blood’

Ms Lankford said the prosecution would also produce a witness who met the couple in Dunnes Stores about this time and who would tell the jury that Ms Jones told her about the property dispute and that Mr O'Hara told them that 'The brother will pay'.

“The State will say there was bad blood between the parties and no real resolution despite the court settlement. It’s the State’s case that Helen Jones had a motive for this offence and that Keith O’Hara was living with her and he was supportive of her,” said Ms Lankford.

She said that the State would present evidence that Ms Jones and Mr O'Hara took a taxi to Bandon Road from their home in Mayfield on the night of September 4th. The taxi was driven by Pat Moynihan who knew Ms Jones and she introduced her companion to him as Keith.

Mr Moynihan would give evidence that he pulled up opposite the Lough Credit Union on the Bandon Road at about 9.45pm. He will say Ms Jones got out and went across the road and began banging aggressively on the door of a house with the handle of a knife that she had in her hand.

Mr Moynihan would give further evidence that Ms Jones got back into the taxi. He then did a u-turn and pulled up outside the same house when both Ms Jones and Mr O’Hara got out and again began banging on the door.

It was opened by Paul Jones — whom he knew – wearing black boxer shorts.

Mr Moynihan would also give evidence that he saw aggression between both parties, Ms Lankford said.

She said the prosecution would not be presenting any witnesses to say they saw the accused attack Mr Jones, but they would produce evidence from passers-by who saw both accused enter the house.

The State would also produce some witnesses who would say that they saw a woman standing over a body prone on the ground in the house and that both Ms Jones and Mr O’Hara left the scene at about 10.07pm, she said.


Ms Lankford said the prosecution had CCTV footage from the Lough Union Credit Union showing the couple entering the nearby MacCurtain Villas area. She said it would also produce evidence that a machete was recovered from the garden of a house in Mac Curtain Villas.

She said that forensic tests on the weapon showed that there was blood on the blade which matched the DNA of Paul Jones and that there was blood on the handle which matched the DNA of Mr O’Hara.

Ms Lankford said the court would hear evidence from Birgit Greiner-Bohlan, who would tell how she met a couple in distress near MacCurtain Villas and offered to call a taxi for them. The number she gave the taxi company for the couple was Mr O’Hara’s mobile number, Ms Lankford said.

She said that state would also present evidence that Ms Greiner-Bohlan cancelled the taxi she ordered when another taxi driven by Daniel Chidi-Ibe came along. The couple got into Mr Chidi-Ibe’s taxi and he dropped them back to a house at Cahergal Avenue.

Ms Lankford said the court would hear that blood found in the back of Mr Chidi-Ibe’s taxi belonged to Mr O’Hara and the State would also allege Ms Jones gave clothes belonging to her and Mr O’Hara to a friend to wash. The trial would hear the clothing contained Mr Jones’s DNA,s he said.

Mr Justice Michael McGrath told jurors at the outset of the case that it was likely to last four weeks at the Anglesea Street Courthouse in Cork and that they could expect to hear evidence from around 150 witnesses.

The case continues.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times