Abigail Rieley

Writer and Author

Tag: Criminal Courts of Justice (page 3 of 4)

The Waiting Begins

The jury started their deliberations at 2.29 this afternoon.  It’s only a matter of time now until Eamonn Lillis hears his fate and the Cawley family hear what will happen to the man accused of killing Celine Cawley.

Jury waits are always tedious.  There’s never anything to do.  Well that’s not strictly true. When the jury goes out is the moment when most of the press benches are galvanised into action and start seriously working on their final verdict copy.  If you’re writing for a daily there are usually two or three versions of the story, one for each outcome.  It’s not quite so labour intensive if you work for a Sunday paper (unless the verdict comes on a Saturday afternoon of course) but the final wrap is a massive task nonetheless.

So the cables snake over to the plug sockets on the now empty barristers bench, the sweet papers accumulate on the press benches and the quiet of the almost empty courtroom is filled with the rustling of notebook pages.  For everyone else it’s a matter of waiting.  It’s the first time there’s been a big wait in the new Criminal Courts of Justice and there’s been much discussion about whether the benches in the Four Courts were more or less arse numbing than the hard edged, pale wooden planks that cut off the circulation in the backs of your legs if you’re unfortunate to get yourself into the wrong position.

The format at this stage of a trial is always the same.  The jury retires after the Judge’s charge and the prosecution and defence teams have the opportunity to tell the judge what they think he missed out or failed to emphasise.  Then the jury get called back and the charge is updated.  This process took rather a long time today.  It was almost half past three when they were called back.

Mr Justice Barry White clarified a couple of legal and factual points as he had been asked to do and told the jury again that it was up to them alone to determine the facts in this case.  He told them that they should not feel he was trying to impose his will on them or that he was subtly hinting at a preferred verdict.  He neither carried the sword for the prosecution nor the shield for the defence, he told them.

So the jury resumed their deliberations and the waiting began again.  In the Four Courts there is a constant creaking and knocking, as you would expect in an old building.  You spend half the wait on tenterhooks every time you think you hear a knock on the door that leads to the jury room.

Things are different in the new court house.  The floors are carpeted, the building new and creak free. Then there’s the jury wrangler, he’s not called that but you get the general idea.  He’s there to look after the jury and so this afternoon, a little after four he appeared with a folded piece of paper.

The jury had a question.

Well actually they had a shopping list of items of evidence to help them in their deliberations.  They wanted a tape of the 999 call Mr Lillis made and a tape recorder to play it, the statements Jean Treacy and Mr Lillis’s daughter gave to gardai, the Rip Curl bag gardai found in the attic at Rowan Hill, filled with Mr Lillis’s bloodstained clothes and the bloodstained clothes found in Mr Lillis’s bedroom.  They also wanted the transcript of Mr Lillis’s evidence in court and the report given by Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis.

It’s never a simple list with juries.  Half the things they requested were off limits, others logistically complicated.  The jury had asked for the original garda statements given by Jean Treacy and the daughter.  They weren’t evidence so the request was denied, although they have the option of listening back to the evidence they gave in court.  They also asked for the transcript of Mr Lillis’s evidence – something only the judge has access to.

So they were sent home for the night.  Before we reconvene tomorrow morning the courts services will decide whether or not there is portable access to the 999 call or the recordings of the evidence given in court by Ms Treacy, Mr Lillis, his daughter and Dr Curtis.  If the jury can’t listen back in their room we’ve a long day ahead of us while they listen back in the courtroom.

So the wait will continue tomorrow.  Mr Lillis will have longer to wait to hear his fate.

The Closing Stages

Eamonn Lillis will know his fate by the end of the week.  Today the jury in his trial for the murder of his wife Celine Cawley heard closing speeches from both prosecution and defence counsel and Judge, Mr Justice Barry White has started his charge.

They’re expected to start deliberating sometime tomorrow.  They’ll have a lot to consider. 

Prosecution counsel Mary Ellen Ring SC told the jury that Eamonn Lillis was an opportunistic killer who had seized on the chance to end an unhappy marriage when the row erupted with his wife on the morning of December 15th 2008.  She told the jury that the only verdict they should come back with was guilty of murder.

The defence are looking for an acquittal.  Defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC pointed out that the prosecution case simply didn’t hold up and told the jury that they needed to think about why a so-called opportunistic killer would only use moderate force when dealing the fatal blows, leaving Celine to suffocate to death.

The jury also have the option of manslaughter.  Or rather the options.  Judge White told them this afternoon that to come back with this verdict they would have to all agree on one of the possibilities. 

The first was that Eamonn Lillis had acted in self defence when attacked by his wife with a brick.  This would normally mean an acquittal but if the jury consider that he used excessive force the verdict is manslaughter.

The second option is that they think Eamonn Lillis is guilty of criminal negligence, in leaving his injured wife to die on the decking without calling the emergency services in time.  This also carries a manslaughter verdict.

Then there’s the option of provocation.  If the jury think that Eamonn Lillis was pushed to such an extent he snapped and wasn’t in control of his actions.  Again this is manslaughter.

Judge White has been running through the evidence of the trial this afternoon.  He pointed out that Mr Lillis lied about the masked burglar, even voluntarily embellishing his lie and clinging to it even when given several opportunities to come clean.  He said Mr Lillis had also lied to gardai about what clothes he was wearing even when his own bloodstained clothes were found in a suitcase in the attic.  It will be up to the jury whether they accept his comments.

Judge White also asked the jury whether they considered Mr Lillis’s affair with Jean Treacy to be a fling or something deeper.  He pointed to the note found in Mr Lillis’s bedroom that talked about running out of time.  He also highlighted mobile phone traffic between Mr Lillis and Ms Treacy which shows a marked increase of communication between November 2008 and December.  He asked the jury whether they considered this indicative of a fling or something deeper.

Judge White will finish his charge in the morning and the jury will consider their verdict.  We’ll all be waiting to see what they make of the case.

Based on a True Story

On his second day in the witness box Eamonn Lillis was talking fiction.  He was being cross examined on the note gardai found in his bedroom, the note that sounded suspiciously like the story of his affair with Jean Treacy and the words of a man angst ridden at his place in a love triangle.

This was not the case, Mr Lillis was adamant.  It was a treatment for a film script he had been working on.  He had been working on a script for ages, he had notes and journals to prove it. His idea was based on a true story but it was fiction and the note was fiction too, even if it did use real names.

Mr Lillis proceeded to weave a rather chaotic account of his idea.  It had been sparked by a project they had been filming for Irish Permanent, he said.  The film crew had been in place filming a bank robbery and a passer by thought they were filming a reconstruction for Crime Line.  That was the spark, he said.  He had thought, wouldn’t it be a good story to have a film crew filming a robbery but they really were robbing the place.

What about the note, prosecution counsel Mary Ellen Ring wanted to know.  That was based on the situation he found himself in but it was just fiction as well, he told her.  He had woken one night at about three or four in the morning and the idea had come to him.  It would have made a good simple script.  He had left the note where he could find it to bring into the office and work on it there.  It was about two characters who were running out of time…it bore no relation to persons living or dead, or at least to what had happened later.

Mr Lillis denies murdering his wife, Celine Cawley at their home in Howth on December 15th 2008.  Today he denied hitting her three times with a brick.  Ms Ring pointed out that two of the head wounds Celine had when she died were horizontal, as if made with a brick, rather than vertical as would be expected if she had hit her head of the living room window in a struggle as Mr Lillis had said.  Mr Lillis replied emphatically “That’s not true.”

Today was the final day of evidence.  Tomorrow will start with the closing speeches of prosecution and defence and then it will be up to Judge Barry White to summarise the evidence for the jury and charge them to begin their deliberations.  The courtroom was packed today, as it has been every day of the trial.  Dozens of members of the public squashed into the limited standing room in Court 19.  One watcher had even brought his guide dog, which narrowly avoided being trampled as it lay patiently through the proceedings.

It’s been a while since there was a trial like this. And it will be a while until there’s another one.  I sincerely hope the ghoulish curiosity of some of the more lascivious rubber neckers is sufficiently sated.

A Brief Pause

It’s been a busy couple of weeks but the Eamonn Lillis trial is entering it’s final stages.  The defence have started going into evidence and once they’re done it’s all done bar the shouting – that is, the speeches by both sides and the judge’s summing up and charge of the jury.  Then it’s all down to the six men and six women who have the ultimate task of passing judgement on whether or not Eamonn Lillis killed his wife.

It’s been the first big trial in the new court complex on Parkgate street.  I’ve posted my view on the courts on this blog before and I’ve also written about the media facilities in the Evening Herald.   But it’s not just the press that are unhappy.

It was one thing giving out about the courts in November when I first wrote about them.  Back then the paint was still wet and they weren’t properly open.  But over the past few weeks they’ve had a proper test run and have dealt with the public crush that accompanies a trial like the Eamonn Lillis one.  They haven’t done well.

The biggest problems are the new courtrooms.  Nobody seems to like them.  The gardai don’t have room to put all the evidence they must bring with them every day of a trial and when the court is full there’s nowhere for the 20 or so witnesses they need in an average day to sit.

The journalists don’t like the fact the press bench is positioned so that surreptitious glances around the court are next to impossible and that there are no plug sockets in easy reach for power hungry laptops.

The courts are too hot and the layout makes easy movement around problematic.  But the biggest problem, especially with a high profile trial, is the lack of a public gallery.  I’ve written before about The Crowd, the gaggle of elderly tricoteuses who attend any kind of public blood letting with rapacious glee.  With the Lillis trial they’ve descended on the court in their dozens.

Every morning they mass around the doors into the courtroom so that when the accused arrives he must push through the leering mob who giggle like sixties teenagers in the presence of a Beatle.  In the past the bulk of these rubber neckers have been banished to the public gallery where they can view the proceedings without getting under foot.

The new courts have no public gallery, although an overflow facility is available in the jury assembly room on the ground floor, when it’s not being used, is provided.  Of course no one wants to watch proceedings on a TV screen so no one takes up the option.  Consequently they mass six deep at the back of the court.  The family of the deceased, who are having to listen to traumatic evidence on a daily basis, also have to put up with shopping bags rested on their heads and hands resting heavily on the backs of their seats.

Every morning the mob gathers and the press must wait with them.  When the doors are eventually opened there is an undignified scramble to get through like the first day of the sales.  The courts security don’t appear to recognise that the press are any different from the day trippers and apart from the wonderful intervention of Courts Service PRO Gerry Curran on Friday when we were allowed to take our seats before the crush descended, the morning stampede adds considerable stress to the working day.  I can only imagine what it’s like for the accused, his family and that of Celine Cawley.

It’s certainly not dignified for anyone, reducing them to a similar position as zoo animals, and it’s considerably worse in the new courts.  It’ll be very interesting to see how things are managed in future trials and whether, in fact, this is a problem that can be solved at all.

The new courts are going to take a lot of getting used to.

Straight From the Horse’s Mouth

There was an excited hush in the courtroom this morning as Eamonn Lillis made his way to the stand.  The accused is not obliged to take the stand in his defence and the jury are not allowed to pass any judgement on whether he does or not but as a journalist it’s always a good day when they take the short walk from their habitual seat (which isn’t a dock) to the witness stand.

Since there have been so many different accounts of Celine Cawley’s final moments during the two weeks of her husband’s trial everyone was eager to hear the account that came out of the horse’s mouth.

He told the court that he  had met Celine in 1990 at the advertising awards festival held every year in Kinsale.  At the time he was working as an advertising artistic director, she in a film production company.  She had arranged for Jack Charlton to come and manage the Irish football team in the friendly game the festival was holding – Ireland against the rest of the world.  He had signed up to play.  They met and clicked.  Both of them had German shepherds and, as he would with Jean Treacy 18 years later, he fell for a woman who shared his love of dogs.

Back in Dublin they continued to meet and after a relatively brief romance they were married the following year.  Their daughter was born a year into their marriage and they would become wealthy from the production company Celine had started Toytown Films.

He told the court that the day Celine died had started ordinarily enough.  He had woken at about 6.45 that morning, got up and done his customary morning exercises.  He went downstairs, let the dogs out and put the kettle on.

He brought cups of tea to his daughter and to Celine and got in beside his wife, in the downstairs bedroom she used, for “a kiss and a cuddle”.  He explained that it was normal for them to sleep apart.  “We were both tricky people to sleep with. Celine snored, so do I”.  The practise had started when their daughter was a baby to ensure that at least one of them had a decent night’s sleep.

That morning they watched television together for about 40 minutes than he went back upstairs for a shower and to get dressed.  He told the court that when he came back down Celine was in the kitchen making lunch for their daughter and putting the breakfast together.  He had breakfast then dropped his daughter to school.

The tranquillity of the morning continued until he returned from taking the dogs for a walk he said.  Celine was in the kitchen cleaning out the ice trays from the fridge.  She was wearing rubber gloves.  She asked him whether he wanted a cup of tea but he said no, he would go and clear the garden of dog poo first.  He told the court he got an old pair of gloves and headed outside.

Celine asked him whether he had remembered to put out meal worms for the robin.  He hadn’t.  She angrily replied that was just “bloody typical” and things degenerated from there.  They started to “hurl abuse at each other”.  Mr Lillis said he had walked out onto the decking to continue what he was going to do and Celine followed him to continue the row.

He told prosecution counsel Mary Ellen Ring that his wife could be very sarcastic.  “It wasn’t the food for the robin it was the fact she had asked me to do something and I hadn’t done it.”

Mr Lillis said once his wife followed him outside the row got worse.  She started asking him why he hadn’t been out chasing work for the production company.  He said he told her there was no work out there.  It was the middle of a recession.

He said that Celine told him he didn’t care about her or their daughter.  He told her she was only interested in her own image as superwoman.  “She didn’t appreciate stuff she already had.”  She also didn’t appreciate all the things he did around the house.

He said he didn’t see her fall.  He had his back to her.  But he saw her get up and when she did she was rubbing the back of her head.  As she stood up she picked up a brick from the ground.

Mr Lillis said he went over to see if she was ok but she thrust the brick at him.  He was still angry and grabbed it out of her hand.

He said he turned away again and she came after him saying again that it was “just typical” of him to walk out on a row.  He went back to her and shoved the brick at her telling her to “shove it where the sun doesn’t shine”. He said he was jabbing her on the shoulder with his finger as they argued.

He said Celine then grabbed the brick out of his hand and hit him with it.  He thought it had marked him on the chin.  He tried to grab the brick again and she pulled her arm away.  He said this was when he pulled the nail off his wedding ring finger.

In anger he shoved her back against the living room window.  She cried out but he couldn’t tell whether this was because she had hurt herself or was screaming at him.  This would have been the screams that neighbour heard at 9.35.

The struggle continued until he slipped on the decking.  He fell to his knees, forcing Celine off balance.  She fell onto her back, banging her head off the deck.  the brick was no longer in her hand.

He said he went to get up and she bit the little finger on his right hand and wouldn’t let go.  Mr Lillis said his wife was shaking her head back and forward as she bit so he pushed her forehead away then pushed her head to the ground until she let go.  Mr Lillis said the row stopped.  They were both shocked by what had happened.  He said he suggested they tell their daughter they had both been injured in a robbery.  She said ok.

He said Celine seemed quiet and dazed but sat up.  He saw blood on her head but not much.  He commented that his wife had very thick hair.  He got her to lay her head on his lap.  “I was just looking after her the way I always had.”  She stayed there for a second then sat up again.

He went in to the kitchen and came out with kitchen towels and a tea towel which he gave her to mop up the blood, then he gathered everything up, the gloves he had dropped, the wet rubber gloves she had been wearing, and the kitchen towels and took them inside.

He went straight into the living room and took some camera equipment, the same kind of stuff that had been taken when they were burgled around 18 months before.  Then he brought the camera stuff and the bin bag upstairs and got changed.

He decided his outer clothes were too bloodstained to be washed so he put them in the rubbish bag but put his shoes and t-shirt back in the wardrobe.  He said he then put the plastic bag and the camera stuff into a small suitcase and put it in the attic, which was open as they had been taking down Christmas cards.

When he came back down he went to find Celine and saw her collapsed on the decking.  He said he lied to the emergency services because it was what they had agreed and he didn’t want Celine to wake up and give a different account.

Once he had told a lie, he said, he felt he couldn’t take it back.  He felt “boxed in” by family and friends and trapped into his lie.

Mr Lillis will be back on the stand on Monday.

A Difference of Opinion

We were back to the forensics today.  Assistant State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis took the stand to tell the jury his findings from the autopsy of Celine Cawley.

We’ve heard various different scenarios for what happened on December 15th 2008.  We know that the account Eamonn Lillis gave of his wife’s death to gardai, emergency services and members of his wife’s family was a lie.  At the start of the trial last week Mr Lillis’s defence counsel Brendan Grehan stood up at informed the jury that Mr Lillis admitted that his account of a violent attack by a brick wielding burglar was a complete fabrication.

The fictional burglar has made a number appearances over the course of the trial but we’ve all been waiting to the alternative account of events that Mr Lillis said his solicitor advised him not to tell.

Then yesterday his former mistress Jean Treacy took the stand.  She told the court that Mr Lillis had told her how he had fought with his wife and in the struggle that followed she slipped on the frosty decking outside the spacious house in Howth and cracked her head on a cobble brick left over from paving the patio.

Today Mr Lillis’s daughter gave a very similar account.  Speaking through a video link from a room in another part of the court complex the 17-year-old recounted the account her father had given her of her mother’s death.

She had seen him after he was released from remand in jail.  She had spent the Christmas and New Year in Austria but it had been “the world’s worst Christmas” for her.  She told the court that her father had told her he and Celine had scuffled during an argument about putting meal worms out for the local robin and she had slipped.

She said her father told her he had panicked after his wife had died and lied.  “He did it for me but I didn’t really appreciate that he did it.”  She said that she had forgiven her father for what had happened but not for the lie.  “I asked me could I forgive him and I said yes but I couldn’t really forgive him for the lie.”

Eamonn Lillis sat with his eyes fixed on his daughter’s face as she gave her evidence.  It was the first time in the trial he had looked up for the majority of a witness’s evidence but this morning it looked as though he had more difficulty looking away.

She told the court that her father had told her her mother had hit him with the brick she had hit her head on and had bitten his finger.

This afternoon we heard another possible sequence of events.  Dr Michael Curtis told the court that he doubted that the wounds Celine Cawley had received to her head were all the result of a fall.  One wound, on the back right side of the head, could have been but the other two, one toward the front on the left above the ear, the other towards the top of the head on the right side were in unusual positions for this kind of cause.

He said that he did not think the account given by Jean Treacy was plausible, especially a reference to Celine falling then bouncing back up like a beach ball.  He told the court “In my opinion that account does not in any way sufficiently explain the injuries of the deceased.”

He went on to say “I don’t think she suffered the three wounds from a single fall and I don’t think that she fell three times and I think two of these wounds are in positions that are not typical of scalp wounds caused by falls.”

Dr Curtis said that in his opinion Celine Cawley had been hit with a blunt implement to the front of the head causing her to fall onto her face.  She was then hit two further times to the back of the head causing scrapes and bruises to her face.  He said that the weapon would have been wielded with only moderate force.

These head injuries would have resulted in concussion and loss of consciousness but there was no internal bleeding in the skull and no skull fractures.  The cause of death was listed as blunt force trauma to the head but also obesity and an enlarged heart which had meant that, with her breathing restricted from her position she would have suffered oxygen starvation and this too had caused her death.

He told the court that her injuries taken individually would not necessarily be fatal and that her life could have been saved if she had received prompt medical attention.

Dr Curtis disagreed when Brendan Grehan suggested that he could not speculate on how the wounds were delivered or in what order.  He said that he had been told by gardai that Ms Cawley was discovered lying face down and this meant that the wound to the front of the skull would have had to be dealt first.

He agreed that if Ms Cawley had not been lying on her front his theory would have been weakened.  He said that blood spatter on the wall near the living room window could either have come from a wound or a blood soaked weapon.  Any further analysis, he said, was the work of a forensic scientist not a pathologist.

The trial continues tomorrow.

The Mistress Speaks

The sense of anticipation in the courtroom was palpable.  There was a wall of gardai surrounding a corner at the back of the courtroom, a pretty girl behind them drinking from a water bottle through a straw.

She had dark hair, with a couple of honey coloured streaks, hanging loose to her shoulders she looked young for her 32 years.  Wearing a white blouse with black trousers she was professional, groomed and seemed quietly confident. 

The word rippled around the courtroom almost instantly.  This was it.  She was here.  Everyone had been waiting a long time to get a look at Jean Treacy, the woman who had been having a passionate affair with Eamonn Lillis when his wife, Celine Cawley was brutally killed.  Finally, today, they would get their wish.

Speaking in a quiet, lilting accent with sharper South Dublin overtones, she leaned forward into the microphone and told the court about the affair.  She had met Mr Lillis through his wife, she said, who had been a regular visit to the Howth Haven Salon where she was working at the time.  Celine had come to her for deep tissue back massage, she said, but hadn’t liked too much pain so they hadn’t been that deep.  After a while Mr Lillis started visiting her too for the same deep tissue massage his wife had.

Ms Treacy said she had started working in the salon in August 2006.  She had previously worked in marketing but had retrained as a beauty therapist.  Mr Lillis and Ms Cawley were regular clients over a period of about two years.  She usually saw Mr Lillis on a Friday afternoon.

At the start of November 2008 she had been talking to Mr Lillis about his dogs.  She told him she would love to see pictures of them and he replied that he had some on his iPod out in the car.  When she finished work at 6p.m. that evening she went out with him to the carpark.  She sat into the front seat of his car with the door open and he showed her the photographs.  She noticed his hands.  “They were just particularly nice for a man’s hands.”

The following week he had come to his appointment as normal but something was different.  The massage started as normal with her working on his back and shoulders.  He needed work on the front of his shoulder as well so she turned him over to begin work.  Ms Treacy told the court that normally a client would close their eyes when they turned over onto their back but Mr Lillis kept his open.

“He was staring at me to the point I was almost uncomfortable.”  She asked what he was thinking.  He said nothing.  But he kept staring at her and smiling.  He asked her what she was thinking but she just shook her head and kept going.  The staring continued so she asked again what was he thinking, he responded by asking her the same question back.  She told the court she put his fingers on her wrist to feel her racing pulse and said “that’s what I was thinking” and walked out of the room.

As the relationship developed they started texting and calling one another daily.  They would try to snatch a few minutes together almost every day.  As both of them were in relationships, secrecy was vital.  When they were due to meet they would send an empty text to see if the other was free to talk.  They would usually meet in carparks although she had been to his house, Rowan Hill three times.  They would generally meet on a Monday when she had a day off from the salon.

She knew he was not happy in his marriage but she said she would not have known if he hadn’t told her.  “They looked very good together.”  Four or five weeks before Ms Cawley’s death Mr Lillis told her that one morning he had told Celine that he wasn’t happy.  “Celine had said well make a list of anything you’re unhappy with and we will work on it.”  The lovers referred to this list as his “resolution list”.

Ms Treacy told the court that, despite the strength of her feelings, she had never wanted the marriage to fail and had not loved Mr Lillis.  “I realise now it was more an infatuation than anything.  That came and went.”

They had been supposed to meet on December 15th.  At around a quarter to ten she sent a blank text to Mr Lillis’s phone.  She heard nothing back.  A while later she sent another text asking him to bring the ML Jeep.  “Not from a seedy, sordid point of view”, she hastened to add.  It was more comfortable to sit in and as the windows were tinted it meant no constant looking over the shoulder.

She didn’t get any reply to that text or the ones she sent in the course of the day.  That evening, after learning of Ms Cawley’s death through a call from her boss at the salon, she texted Mr Lillis again offering her support.  He texted back saying it had been a “horrifying day, a day from hell”  She replied saying she would do anything she could to help.  He texted back “It gives me great strength to know that you are thinking of me”.

The following day she texted him suggesting they didn’t see each other for a while.  He replied that was probably a good idea but a few days later he left her a message saying that he would probably be back in the house that week and would probably see her for his massage.  He would probably need one.  At that stage she was no longer working at the salon and her boss rang him to cancel the appointment.

That was the last time she heard from him until the new year.  About 24 hours after he had been released from remand on January 6th she got a call from him on her phone.  She didn’t answer.  He left her a message asking her to call him on the house phone.  There were a few more calls but she didn’t answer any of them.

The following morning he arrived at her house.  Ms Treacy told the court that he had not knocked on the door, simply done a u-turn in the drive.

In the middle of March, after a few drinks too many, she called his phone.  It had been a stressful couple of months for her and she told defence counsel Brendan Grehan that she felt she was owed an explanation.  “It’s not that I exactly wanted to ask him straight out.”   She said “I found myself in this nightmare and I couldn’t understand how I had got it so wrong.”

She arranged to meet Mr Lillis but when she saw him again she suddenly didn’t want to know.  He insisted on telling her, saying he felt he owed her an explanation. 

Mr Lillis told her that morning Celine had asked him to put out the rubbish but he had forgotten.  “She went mad”.  Ms Treacy said Mr Lillis told her Celine then “started hurling abuse” and said “he was a terrible husband and just useless.”  Mr Lillis said told her things degenerated.  They both said “disgusting” things.

For some reason Celine had gone outside.  The ground was wet and she ended up falling.  “He made an analogy to a beach ball” saying it was “unbelievable how she just bounced back up again.”

The row continued and they grappled.  Mr Lillis told Ms Treacy that at one point he had his wife up against some glass and they both fell and fought on the ground.  “All of a sudden she started biting his finger.  She wouldn’t let go.  He just felt she would bite it off.”

Ms Treacy said that Mr Lillis had demonstrated how he used his other hand to push his wife’s forehead away to make her let go.  He told her he used a gentle steady force, not a jerky shove.  Then “all of a sudden a pool of blood appeared behind her head and Celine slipped out of consciousness.”

He told her that Celine had faded in an out of consciousness.  He had asked her was she ok and she had said she was.  At one point before she finally lost consciousness they discussed what they were going to tell their daughter to explain their physical injuries and the story of the robbery was born.

She had asked him about the brick, which had been mentioned in the press as the murder weapon.  He told her he supposed it had been behind Celine’s head while he was pushing her away.  She asked why he hadn’t come clean and admitted he had panicked and lied but Mr Lillis told her his solicitor had told him not to.

He told her he wasn’t overcome with grief but did miss his wife.  “He said he often found himself with the light on in her room and lying on her bed and he would find himself going to talk to her and realise she wasn’t there.”

Ms Treacy didn’t tell the gardai about what Mr Lillis had told her initially.  She told the court she had hoped if she broke off all contact he would get the message and go away but on May 26th she arrived at the salon in Inchicore where she now worked to find he had left a letter for her.   There were several pages of a letter and a package tied in white ribbon.  The paper was printed with the lyrics from the Beyonce song Halo.  Inside was a diamond Tiffany pendant.

She took the pendant straight to the gardai and told them her story.  As she was giving her evidence Jean Treacy hardly looked at her former lover.  She glanced down at him once but he did not meet her glance.  As she spoke he gazed intently down at his notes.  For the first time this trial he was wearing contact lenses.  From time to time he rubbed his eyes as if they were hurting.

Finally a side note.  In the television news tonight or in tomorrow’s papers you won’t see a photograph of Jean Treacy.  After she had given evidence the gardai whisked her off to the underground carpark below the new courts complex.  It’s this underground carpark that means that the convicted will no longer walk the “walk of shame” in front of the waiting snappers. 

Jean Treacy was raced out of the building in a garda van and driven off at speed.  When one photographer started to follow the van he encountered a road block.  By shielding her with a dozen officers and removing her in such a cloak and dagger manner I doubt very much gardai have ensured her privacy.

If she had run the gauntlet past the snappers on her way in to court, as her former lover must do every day of his trial, she would have had her face on the front of a few papers.  She has now become a story in her own right.  All the photographers in town will be looking for her and when one finds her they all will.  Whatever you think of the right or wrong of her getting publicity in this case, she’s a part of the story.  That’s just the way the press works.  It’s not up to the gardai to spare her blushes surely.

A Family Tragedy

Celine Cawley’s brother Christopher looked shaken and uncomfortable as he took the stand against the man his sister had been married to for seventeen years.  Eamonn Lillis did not look at his brother-in-law as he told the court about an incident in the days after Celine’s death.

Mr Cawley told the court that Mr Lillis and his daughter had stayed with them while the gardai conducted their forensic investigation of the house on the Windgate Road in Howth where Celine Cawley had been killed.

He said that on December 18th, three days after the tragedy he had a conversation with his brother-in-law about a story that had appeared in the Evening Herald.  The story had concerned the discovery of a bloody brick at the crime scene and the announcement that this brick had been the murder weapon.

Mr Cawley said Mr Lillis had seemed surprised by the story.  He had thought it odd, “because everyone knows that the brick was found for didn’t I hold the brick in my own hand.”

This afternoon’s evidence largely came from the members of the extended Cawley family.  Christopher Cawley’s house had become the gathering place for family and friends in the hours after the news of Celine’s death had been broken.  Paula Linsky, Christopher Cawley’s sister-in-law, told the court that she had been leaving the house to collect her children from school just as Mr Lillis arrived there after speaking to gardai. 

She told the court that she had heard an outpouring of grief as she left the house that day as Mr Lillis’s daughter greeted her father.  “I just heard very upset people.”

The death had caused shockwaves through this extremely middle class world.  A neighbour, Pauline Fraser, told the court that she heard two screams on the morning of the 15th at around 9.30.  The sound was so unusual at that hour of the day that it stuck in her memory. 

She told the court that she had slept late after spending most of the previous night at the hospital but had been woken by a shriek.  Then thirty seconds later came another scream.  She had thought it was teenagers outside the local newsagents or possibly a neighbour’s children and only reconsidered when her husband called to tell her that the tranquillity of their leafy road had been irreparably broken.  The scream had been high pitched, definitely a woman.

The court also heard forensic evidence that Ms Cawley’s DNA had been found on the heavily bloodstained clothes found in a suitcase in the attic at Rowan Hill.  Dr Hillary Clarke told the court that she would have expected the clothes Mr Lillis had handed over to gardai to have been far more heavily bloodstained if he had been carrying out CPR on his wife. 

She said that both the top Mr Lillis had handed over and the t-shirt he wore underneath had Ms Cawley’s blood on the inside.  The most likely explanation for a stain inside one of the sleeve’s of the jumper was that the arm that had been put in it had been wet with blood.

She said that runner boots found in Mr Lillis’s bedroom had both airborne and contact blood stains and had almost certainly been nearby when Celine Cawley’s blood had been spilt.

She said that lighter blood stains on a pair of heavily bloodstained jeans found in the suitcase had probably come from someone cleaning up blood, as had similar stains on a pair of white socks found in the same place although she agreed with defence counsel Brendan Grehan that these stains could have been made by the wet blood that had pooled inside one of the rubber gloves found in the suitcase.

A Breitling watch found on the bedside table in Mr Lillis’s room had, she said been wiped clean of Ms Cawley’s blood, although some remained in the crevice around the watch space and the links of the strap yielded both blood and tissue both of which were a match for Ms Cawley’s DNA.

The trial continues tomorrow.

Text Messages and Blood Spatters

Over the course of their ten week affair Eamonn Lillis and Jean Treacy sent each other over 300 messages.  The messages stopped abruptly when Mr Lillis’s wife, Celine Cawley was died violently at the couple’s home.

Today Mr Lillis’s trial heard details of the texts that passed between the lovers over a couple of days in the middle of December 2008, the days surrounding the death of Ms Cawley.

The court heard last week that Jean Treacy was a massage therapist at the Howth Haven Salon who was having a passionate affair with Mr Lillis.

Today the court heard that the first text found between the two was sent on November 2nd.  They continued, getting more frequent until December 16th when Ms Treacy texted Mr Lillis to suggest they stopped seeing each other for a while.

On Sunday December 14th, the day before Ms Cawley died, Eamonn Lillis texted Jean Treacy at 12.17 that afternoon.  “In car with [his daughter, who cannot be named for legal reasons] Will contact you in 30.x”  Sure enough half an hour later he texted again.  “Hi my love.  Thanks for the text on the way home from the stables.  C is getting car to see horse.  I really miss you my baby.  Call or text asap.  I love you.”

That night Ms Treacy texted him just before 11p.m. “Transporter 3 good.  Love Jason Statham.You staying at home tomorrow? K going into office for part of morning.  Could meet you somewhere.  Miss you so much. x”

The reply did not survive but a couple of minutes she texted again.  “No pressure though, OK Baby? x”

A couple of minutes later she sent a third text.  “Well as usual I’ll have to play it by ear.  Will contact you as soon as possible in morning.  Good night my angel. Love you infinitely. x”

The text morning she sent an empty text at 9.44.  Then at almost 10.30 she sent to two words “Everything OK?”  This would have been almost half an hour after Mr Lillis called the emergency services saying that he and his wife had been attacked and he couldn’t find a pulse on his wife.

At 11.14 she texted again.  “Getting a bit worried now Babe.”

The next day she texted him just before 3 o’clock in the afternoon.  She had obviously heard what had happened.  The message was simple.  “[His daughter] that’s what you really need to focus on.  I’m not abandoning you.  You just need to concentrate on you & [daughter] and what’s happening to you.  To do this I don’t think we should have any contact until things have calmed down (for both our sakes).  I know you will understand.  Everyone is looking for a story.   This is not an easy decision for me to make.  Will be thinking of you and be with you every step of the way. Bye. x”

That night she texted again.  At ten past 11 she sent;  “I wanted you to know I still feel the exact same about you OK.  I’ll keep the appointment times in case you need them.  See you at the funeral.  Best of luck with everything always. x”

We also heard that Celine Cawley’s blood was found spattered about five feet up the wall between the double doors into the utility room and the window into the living room near where Ms Cawley’s body was found at the back of the house of the Windgate Road in Howth.  The spatter was too far away from the main pool of blood where Ms Cawley was found to have been made by the same incident but would have happened at around the same time.

Forensic scientist Dr Stephen Doakes agreed with defence counsel Brendan Grehan that the spatter could have been caused by someone hitting their head on the sharp edge by the window.  There was no blood on the window so whatever happened would have happened over towards the double doors into the house.

There were also drops of blood on the steps that lead to these double doors.  Dr Doakes said the drops would have come from a narrow object that was heavily bloodstained and dripping blood.  Something like a finger or a brick but not a head wound.

The trial will continue tomorrow.

Literary Aspirations

Eamonn Lillis denied that a note found in his bedroom was written about his mistress Jean Treacy.  It was the basis of a short story he said, a doomed love affair.   He wrote, he explained, he used to be a copy writer.  The gardai may also have seen the chapter about a dog lying around.

He said the notes were not a resolution list written about the way he was feeling, they were fictional although based on experience.

The note read

She will get that wedding dress

She will marry Keith next June

She will send out the invites in January

You will never be with her properly.

The only way you can be with her is to live here.

Think of the positives in the relationship.

You will never take her to France.

She will never share your bed.

You are running out of time!!!

Eamonn Lillis denied that he was his wife’s lap dog, that he was a second class citizen or that she was a dominating character.  He said his solicitor had told him not to discuss this.

The trial continues on Monday.

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