Rachel O'Reilly's birth brother gives evidence


Rachel O'Reilly's birth brother told a jury in the Central Criminal Court today that he did not see or speak to Rachel on the day of the killing.

Mother of two Rachel O'Reilly (30), who was adopted at birth, was murdered at the family home in the Naul Co Dublin on 4th October 2004.

Her husband Joe O'Reilly (35) of Lambay View, Baldarragh, Naul, Co Dublin has pleaded not guilty to her murder.

Thomas Lowe, Mrs O'Reilly's birth brother, told the court that after first his family first got to know Rachel in 1991, 'contact faded out for a bit' but that he respected her decision.

However, he said the family got to know her again when she joined Jackie Skelly's gym, as a friend of his worked there.

Mr Lowe, a carpenter, said he and his brother helped the O'Reillys by doing some work around their house. "I was on very good terms with Rachel," he said.

He also revealed that he joined Joe and Rachel's softball team, after the couple invited him to do so. He said that on two occasions, he spent the night in their house when Joe was not there.

In August 2004, he was putting decking in their back garden when he cut his hand. He said the cut was 'deep enough' and that it was dripping blood as he walked into the utility room to look for a bandage.

"Some blood may have dripped onto the washing machine," he said. He added that when he told Rachel about it, she replied 'don't worry about that, I'll clean that up'."

He said he some blood also fell on the kitchen floor and that his sister cleaned that up too. He said the last contact he had with Rachel was the day before her murder, when she and Joe called over to his house in Walkinstown with the children.

He also spoke about his movements on the day of her murder.

He said he woke up when his brother rang to tell him he couldn't go on a job that morning. Because of that, he said he couldn't go either as two people were needed for the job.

After that, he said he stayed in bed until 12.30 and decided against going into town to meet his girlfriend.

He said the first person to see him that day was a neighbour, who was collecting money for the local church.

He said this woman called at about 2 o'clock. At 5pm, he said Joe O' Reilly called him to tell him Rachel was murdered.

Defence counsel, Ms Anne Rowland BL, began her cross-examination by asking Mr Lowe about his statements to gardai relating to the blood found on the washing machine.

He said he first spoke to gardai on 5th October, when he told them he hadn't gone to work that day because his brother had to stay at home with his sick child. He agreed he only told gardai about the cut on his hand in a statement dated 21st March 05.

At first, Mr Lowe thought he made contact with gardai about the cut, but when asked again what could have prompted him to do this, he said: "actually, the guards did actually say there was blood there."

He also agreed he made a further statement in May '05 telling them his blood had dripped onto the washing machine.

Asked 'why would you think the blood would still be on the washing machine,' he said: 'I don't know.' Ms Rowland asked him what he felt about forensic tests which showed his DNA was a near match to a blood swab taken from the washing machine.

She said while the swab was an 'incomplete DNA profile,' forensic scientists were able to confirm there was a 1 in 15,000 chance of someone else in the population having the same DNA. Mr Lowe said gardai 'never told me that.'

Ms Rowland then went on to ask him further questions about his movements on the day of the murder.

She said the neighbour who called to him on the day of the killing made a statement to gardai indicating she didn't start her charity collection until 4pm.

Asked by Ms Rowland what he made of this statement, Mr Lowe it 'doesn't make a difference,' and insisted she called to his door at around 2pm. Referring to phone records of his mobile calls, she said he didn't talk to anyone from the time his brother called him at 8.31am until 1.13pm.

She said a number of incoming calls were registered but that he didn't answer, suggesting 'someone was trying to get through.' Mr Lowe agreed with the records. In closing her cross-examination, Ms Rowland said: "There wasn't anyone who could say where you were during that morning."

He replied: 'no' Prosecuting counsel, Mr Dominick McGinn BL, then resumed his questioning and asked him whether he'd spoken with Rachel or gone to her home on the day of her murder. Mr Lowe again said: 'no.' Asked where he lived at the time, he said: "Walkinstown."

Teresa Lowe, Mrs O'Reilly's birth mother, told social workers she would be happy to meet her daughter again the future if she came looking for her. Mrs Lowe told prosecuting counsel Mr Denis Vaughan Buckley SC said she was 17 when she gave birth to Rachel, whom she named 'Teresa Green.'

She said she gave her up for adoption a short time later with the instructions that if Rachel ever wanted to make contact, she could.

In 1991, Rachel did contact social workers and she was reunited with Mrs Lowe and her two sons, Thomas and Patrick and an on-off relationship followed.