Man accused of murdering woman found in burning car denied bail

Woman’s body was found in car at forest car park in Doneraile, Co Cork

A man accused of murdering a 72-year-old woman whose body was found in a burning car was denied bail by the High Court on Thursday.

Michael Leonard (63) of Hillcrest, Glenosheen, Kilmallock, Co Limerick, who appeared at the bail hearing by video-link, is accused of murdering pensioner Mary O'Keeffe (72) at Doneraile, Co Cork, on February 4th of this year.

Detective Sergeant James O'Shea of Fermoy Garda Station told State counsel, Emmet Nolan BL, that he was objecting to bail on the basis of the strength of the evidence, the seriousness of the charge and on the grounds that the accused might interfere with witnesses in the case.

Det Sgt O’Shea said that gardaí and fire services were called to the scene of a burning vehicle in which Ms O’Keeffe’s body was found, at 2.20pm on February 4th, 2021.


Marc Thompson Grolimund BL, defending, said that his client had a good work record and that he had worked for 41 years for Coillte before becoming a consultant and retiring 12 months ago.

Counsel said that a bond from another male of €10,000 could be made available to the court and that an address in a vacant property could be made available for Mr Leonard, should the court grant bail.

Taking the stand, Mr Leonard told Mr Grolimund that he would "absolutely" not approach any witness in the case and would "not speak to anyone in the case, bar my solicitor".

Mr Justice Robert Eagar said that Ms O'Keeffe had suffered an "appalling" death and that he had taken into account the "degree and seriousness" of the charge of murder when denying bail, after hearing evidence from Det Sgt O'Shea and Mr Leonard.

Mr Justice Eagar told the media that no evidence in the bail hearing that might be prejudicial to the trial could be published.

The late Ms O'Keeffe lived in Dromahane, near Mallow, in Co Cork and worked as a cook. She is survived by her three sons.

A postmortem was carried out on her body at Cork University Hospital on February 5th.

The results of the postmortem, which was carried out by Assistant State Pathologist Margaret Bolster, were not released.

The alarm was raised on February 4th when a passer-by spotted a car on fire near the Coillte forest in Doneraile.

Ms O’Keeffe was pronounced dead at the scene.