Woman tells of her affair with O'Reilly


The woman with whom Joe O'Reilly was having an affair told the jury in the Central Criminal Court yesterday that they were planning a "permanent future" together.

Nikki Pelley, Rathfarnham, Co Dublin, also said Mr O'Reilly spent the night with her at her home after he appeared on RTÉ's Late Late Show, about two weeks after the murder.

It was the 14th day of the trial of Mr O'Reilly (35), Lambay View, Baldarragh, the Naul, Co Dublin, who has pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife, Rachel O'Reilly (30), on October 4th, 2004.

Ms Pelley told prosecuting counsel Denis Vaughan Buckley SC that she used to work with Mr O'Reilly in the outdoor advertising company Viacom. She had left the company by the time she met Mr O'Reilly again at a function in the Barge Pub, Portobello, in January 2004. She said other work colleagues were there and she got talking to Mr O'Reilly.

Asked whether she kept in contact with him after the function, she said: "Yeah, we sent jokes and texts and that kind of thing for a while." She said the first time she met him was "a couple of months later, or maybe a month later we met for lunch". This encounter took place in the Templeogue Inn and that they met for lunch there a further "two or three" times.

They went to the cinema in the Liffey Valley shopping centre and met for lunch another time.

It was after this, she said, that she "started up a relationship with him". Asked what kind, she said: "A sexual one." When Mr Vaughan Buckley asked when it became sexual, she replied: "Probably three or four months after the cinema."

Asked how often they would meet, she said: "Weekly, maybe three or four times a week." These meetings would normally take place in her house on Tuesdays, initially, and later on, on Saturdays also.

Asked whether she had ever met Rachel, she replied: "Once, well, I didn't meet her but I saw her once at a softball event." "Did you think she knew?" Mr Vaughan Buckley asked. "I don't think so," she said.

Asked what time he would come over to her house on Tuesdays, she replied: "It would depend if he was playing softball or not." On Saturdays, she said he would meet her during the afternoon and then go home.

Mr O'Reilly said to her that the excuse he gave to Rachel was that he was "working and possibly staying in the office". She also said they went on a trip lasting a couple of days to the country.

"We went down to our family home in Wexford," she said.

Asked whether he ever discussed his marriage with her, she said: "He told me they had effectively split about 1½ years prior to my meeting him." He also told her they had separate bedrooms.

Mr Vaughan Buckley asked her if she had ever met her two sons? She replied yes. Asked how many times, she said: "On a number of occasions." Asked when these meetings would take place, she said: "On Saturday afternoons."

She said she would meet them in Rathfarnham "or we'd go to the zoo". She said Mr O'Reilly introduced her to the children as Nikki. "Nikki - a friend?" Mr Vaughan Buckley asked. "Well, just Nikki."

She was also asked if she had ever stayed in the O'Reilly house in the Naul, to which she replied: "I did, once." Asked when, she said: "One Friday." Rachel was not there at the time and she thought she may have been in the country.

Asked about a phone call she had with Mr O'Reilly the night before the murder, she said she remembered the call but she said she didn't remember him talking to her about Rachel.

She also remembered calling him at about 5.45am the following morning, the day of the killing. However, she disagreed with Mr Vaughan Buckley that it was a long conversation. "I don't remember it to be that long a conversation . . . maybe 15 or 20 minutes." She disagreed that that could be considered a lengthy phone call.

When asked about a later phone call she had with Mr O'Reilly at 8.12am, she said she couldn't remember that.

Mr Vaughan Buckley then asked her about witness statements she made to gardaí on October 5th and 27th, 2004.

"Did you tell them the truth about your relationship?"

"No, I told them it was just an affair," she said.

When asked whether she told them it was more than an affair some time later, she replied: "I did." Mr Vaughan Buckley then asked her why she didn't tell them this in the first place, she said: "I don't know, I just did."

Asked whether Mr O'Reilly had suggested this to her, she said: "No, he just said he told them it was an affair and he wanted me to do the same." She said Mr O'Reilly never gave her a reason for this.

Asked whether they ever discussed their futures, she said: "We talked about things, yes." She added: "We talked about a future, about being together." Asked to clarify whether these discussions included plans for being together permanently, she said: "We talked about it, yes."

Referring to Mr O'Reilly's children, she said he told her where they ended up was one of two choices. "The children either stay with Joe or stay with Rachel." She said Mr O'Reilly told her he "would have preferred full custody but would have settled for joint custody".

Mr Vaughan Buckley then asked her about two halves of a credit card. She was handed the exhibit and requested to put them together. Asked to tell the court what it read, she said: "Ms Nikki P Reilly." She said "either myself or Joe" did it and that it was "just a joke, fun".

She was asked to recall the names by which Mr O'Reilly referred to his wife. She said he normally called her Rach or Rachel but he used to call her other names also. "Wasp would be one," she said, "or the word c**t." Asked what she thought about these names, she said: "It wasn't a term he would use often."

She was aware they had rows but she thought they were "routine, run-of-the mill arguments."

Mr Vaughan Buckley then returned to the day of the murder and asked her about her conversations with him that day. She again repeated that Mr O'Reilly did not speak to her about any arguments he had had with his wife.

At about 3.15pm, she found out that Ms O'Reilly's body had been found. She phoned Mr O'Reilly. "He said to me that Rachel was dead, that he was with the police and 'I'll call you later'," she said.

When Ms Pelley took to the witness box after lunch, Mr Vaughan Buckley again returned to the subject of why Mr O'Reilly wanted her to play down their relationship to gardaí.

He asked her to explain the reason why she thought Mr O'Reilly told her to say they were only having an affair. She replied: "Because if it was a relationship it would be seen to give him a motive to kill Rachel."

He also asked her about Mr O'Reilly's appearance on the Late Late Show on October 22nd. She said she saw the show and he spent the night with her afterwards. Returning again to the subject of their telephone conversation the night before the murder, Mr Vaughan Buckley asked her if she could recall what was it about. She told him: "It was a general a 'good night' conversation, nothing specific." Patrick Gageby SC, defending, had no questions for Ms Pelley and Mr Justice Barry White thanked her.

The trial before a jury of nine men and two women continues.