The papers today are screaming about the failure of Joe O’Reilly’s appeal. O’Reilly, for any non Irish readers, is a notorious wife murderer. He was the first of the recent batch of high profile cases of this kind and ticked all the sex and violence boxes necessary for a media frenzy. O’Reilly also had an unusual level of arrogance which led him to chat happily to various media outlets and even appear on the Late Late Show, Ireland’s foremost chat show.
Anyway, the appeal was heard back in December and the judgement delivered yesterday. To read today’s front pages you would think that O’Reilly was the devil incarnate. The Sun even goes so far as to call him “Devil Joe”. Yesterday’s Evening Herald went into an orgy of satisfied gloating with eight pages of “analysis”. It’s all standard tabloid hyperbole but the judgement was hardly much of a surprise.
When the grounds for appeal were announced last year the general consensus in the Media Room at the Four Courts was that it was all a bit lacklustre. The defence had even applied to have the verdict over turned on the grounds that O2 Ireland, which was O’Reilly’s mobile phone provider and supplier of some of the most damning evidence, might not have been a legally licenced company at the time. It really wasn’t the most inspiring set of grounds to appeal.
The thing was that before the details of the appeal were announced speculation was rife that there would be some strong grounds to appeal on the use of mobile phone evidence to position him in frame for the murder or the seizing of emails from his work.
With the grounds that finally did go forward I doubt there were many surprised, except apparently O’Reilly himself, that the appeal was unsuccessful.
The murder of Rachel O’Reilly was a particularly nasty and brutal one. It’s hard to understand how any husband could do that to their wife but these things happen and they happen with alarming regularity. Personally I don’t think that makes him evil though, and certainly not demonic. Joe O’Reilly is arrogant and obviously thinks he is a little bit cleverer than anyone else.
The facts of the case prove otherwise. He may be a sociopath but to call him evil or demonic elevates him to somewhere he shouldn’t be. He’s simply an Irish man who killed his wife rather than go through a marriage breakup. He’s not the only one and he certainly isn’t anywhere near being the last. He’s no different from Brian Kearney or Anton Mulder, nasty cheap little men all. But as the first he’ll always be beloved of the tabloids…well at least there’s no retrial on the cards!