Murder-accused ‘confessed’ to sister-in-law 20 years ago

John Joseph Malone charged with killing pensioner Ann Smyth in Kilkenny in 1987

The former sister-in-law of a man charged with murdering a woman 30 years ago has told his trial she reported his alleged confession to gardaí 20 years ago.

Ann Walsh was giving evidence to the Central Criminal Court on Tuesday in the trial of a 53-year-old man accused of murdering a widowed pensioner in Kilkenny.

John Joseph Malone is charged with murdering 69-year-old Ann 'Nancy' Smyth on September 11th, 1987, at her home on Wolfe Tone Street in the city. She was strangled before her house was set on fire.

Mr Malone, of Newpark in Kilkenny City, has pleaded not guilty.


Ms Walsh had testified on Monday that she had been married to the accused man’s brother, Bernard (Barney) Malone. She said the accused had confessed involvement in Ms Smyth’s death to her on three occasions over the years. She claimed he said he had murdered her in the first confession.

She was cross-examined by the defence on Tuesday. She explained that the second confession happened while the accused was walking her home from a pub around 1996, when her husband was in prison.

“I don’t know what came over him,” she said. “He just turned around and said he would do the same thing to me as he had done to Nancy Smyth, he would burn my house down underneath me and my two kids.”

She said she reported this threat to Sgt Eddie Geraghty.

"I asked him would he go up and just caution John Joe, and ask him not to come near my house," she said.

She confirmed that she had told him everything that the accused had said that night.

“I would be very surprised if Eddie Geraghty didn’t remember,” she said.

Colman Cody SC, defending, suggested that his client had never said what she had alleged.

“I was there and I remember exactly what was said,” she replied.