O'Donnell `could not look at child'


MRS BRENDAN O'Donnell told gardai he "couldn't bear to look at the child" when he shot Imelda Riney, her son Liam (3) and Father Joseph Walsh, the Central Criminal Court heard yesterday.

Det Sgt Patrick Lynagh said Mrs O'Donnell had told gardai in an unsigned interview on May 8th, 1994 that he had "shot the three of them" and added "My mind was gone."

Mr O'Donnell had said "I had killing on my mind. I shot them from about 12 feet. The priest blessed them. The child had no pain. The woman went very white."

"The blood poured out of the priest's head. The priest wasn't afraid to die. He said `Don't shoot yourself, Brendan'. I got enjoyment out of it. The woman thought I was the IRA. The Provos will get me for shooting the priest. I panicked. I couldn't bear to look at the child. I had to talk to somebody. My mind was gone till yesterday."

In another unsigned interview, Mr O'Donnell told gardai he was "going down for 20 years", the witness said. He had said "I deserve it. I should be shot. You should have given me lead today, it would be all over. Ye hadn't the fucking guts to do it. I can do my time.

"I have been in every prison in Ireland and a few in England. I was in Dundrum with Gallagher who shot the girlfriend in Sligo. He told me all about it. I bluffed the doctors that time. I will do it again.

Det Sgt Lynagh was giving evidence on the 28th day of the trial of Mr O'Donnell (21), a native of Co Clare, but of no fixed abode, who has denied the murder of three people in 1994 and nine other charges.

He has denied the murder of Ms Riney (29) and her son between April 28th and May 8th, 1994. He also denied the murder of Father Walsh (37), the former curate of Eyrecourt, Co Galway, between May 3rd and 8th, 1994, and the false imprisonment of Father Walsh.

Mr O'Donnell has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping Ms Fiona Sampson and Mr Edward Cleary on May 7th, 1994 and to hijacking vehicles driven by both persons.

He has also denied having a shotgun and ammunition with intent to endanger life and for unlawful purposes on the same date.

In court yesterday, Garda Mark Connolly said he was the member in charge in Loughrea Garda station on May 7th, 8th and 9th, 1994 when Mr O'Donnell was in custody there.

He said he had made the decision to extend the questioning of Mr O'Donnell beyond midnight on May 7th, 1994. He agreed this was not normal practice.

Det Garda Brendan Bradley denied a suggestion by Mr Patrick MacEntee SC, defending, that he had put pressure on Mr O'Donnell in the hope he would break down while in custody in Loughrea.

The trial resumes today, before Mr Justice Lavan and the jury.