Patricia O’Connor murder case: Jury expected to begin deliberations on Monday

Judge will finish charging jury following six-week trial

Patricia O’Connor (61)  whose dismembered remains were found scattered across the Dublin and Wicklow mountains nearly three years ago.

Patricia O’Connor (61) whose dismembered remains were found scattered across the Dublin and Wicklow mountains nearly three years ago.

 

A jury is expected to begin deliberations on Monday in the trial of a 35-year-old man accused of murdering a retired grandmother, whose dismembered remains were found scattered across the Dublin and Wicklow mountains nearly three years ago.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott will finish charging the jury on Monday in the Central Criminal Court trial of Kieran Greene, who has pleaded not guilty to murdering Patricia O’Connor (61) at her home in Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 on May 29, 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 Mrs O’Connor on May 29, 2017.

The six-week trial has heard 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.

Former Depute State Pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis, has given evidence that Mrs O’Connor’s head was struck a minimum of three blows with a solid implement and the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

Mr Greene has given two accounts of Mrs O’Connor’s death. In an interview with gardaí in June 2017, Mr Greene said he was in the bathroom when Mrs O’Connor walked in and hit him with a hurl on the wrist, saying ‘Get out, Get out’. Mr Greene said he grabbed the hurl from her, hit her and did not know want happened next as when he woke up there was blood everywhere and he panicked.

Changed his account

The trial has heard that six months after he was charged with her murder, Mr Greene changed his account of killing and dismembering his partner’s mother. He told gardaí in December 2017 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 Mr Johnston.

Mr Greene also told detectives in his December interview that Mrs O’Connor attacked him with a hurley. However, he said Mrs O’Connor’s husband, Augustine ‘Gus’ O’Connor, came into the bathroom after he fell to the ground and admonished his wife saying: “What the f**k are you doing?”. Mr Greene told detectives that Mr O’Connor had killed his wife using a crowbar and he [Mr Greene] had taken the blame.

Continuing his charge to the jury on Friday, Mr Justice McDermott said if they reached a conclusion that Mr Greene had told lies in his second statement in December 2017, they were then entitled to ask themselves why such lies were told and if it was for the purpose of avoiding guilt.

However, the judge said the jury was aware that tools were not thrown out of Mr Greene’s car on Military Road as set out by him in his first statement in June. The judge pointed out that two hacksaws and a hatchet had been found in Dodder Valley Park on January 2, 2018 as a result of Mr Greene’s interview to gardaí in December 2017. These lies favoured the defence’s suggestion that Mr Greene’s second statement is to be relied on, he said.

‘Fool’

The judge told the jury that they knew Mr Greene was a “slower person” and had been described as a “fool”. Mr Greene’s defence team have said it was impossible to believe he was a person who could have dealt with the situation in the way he claimed in his June statement. He reminded the jury that they knew Mr Greene was also a “slow learner”, who had required assistance in school.

Mr Greene’s mother Joan Greene gave evidence that her son was assessed when he was about seven years old and found to be about “two and a half years behind”.

Mr Justice McDermott said Mr Greene’s defence team had also criticised gardaí for “the lack of follow up” after he made his December statement. It was a matter for the jury whether these criticisms were warranted and justified, said the judge, and they should decide the weight to be attached.

In his closing speech, Conor Devally SC for Mr Greene, said 273 jobs appeared in the “garda jobs’ book” before Mr Greene gave his “utterly different” account to gardaí in December. He pointed out that the jobs in the book ended at 290 following his client’s December confession. The lawyer submitted that gardaí were saying “don’t trust the December interview and trust the ones in June” and all the steps taken from then on concerned Mr Johnston, despite Mr O’Connor taking centre stage in Mr Greene’s December interview.

The judge said what was at issue in Mr Greene’s interviews concerned “the motivation” to tell a “whole pack of lies” in June and then tell gardaí the truth in December.

Verdicts

Mr Justice McDermott reminded the jury to consider each count separately in respect of all four accused. The prosecution’s case was said to be the subject of “building blocks and various strands” that, when taken together, created a conclusion of guilt to the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, he outlined.

He explained that this was known as “circumstantial evidence” and the State’s case was that the “combined weight of the evidence” was important. However, the judge said if there was another “rational and innocent explanation” that pointed to the accused’s innocence, they had to adopt this.

He also emphasised to the jury that they should not have regard to anything Mr Greene said about the other three accused in his interviews. He again advised them to compartmentalise each case.

The jury can return three verdicts in relation to the murder charge against Mr Greene, namely; guilty of murder, not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter or not guilty.

There are three verdicts the jury can return in relation to Louise O’Connor, Stephanie O’Connor and Keith Johnston allegedly impeding the apprehension or prosecution of Mr Greene, knowing or believing him to have committed an arrestable offence. These are: not guilty, guilty of knowing that Mr Greene had committed murder or in the alternative, guilty of knowing that Mr Greene had committed manslaughter.

Mother-of-five 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 29, 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 29, 2017 in order to conceal the fact that she was already 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 9, 2017, which were to be used in the concealment of the remains of Mrs O’Connor.

Mr Justice McDermott told the jury that he would “leave over the very last element” of his charge until Monday. It would take “a relatively short time” and they could then retire to consider their verdicts, he said.