Yesterday in the High Court the ongoing story of Eamonn Lillis made a brief appearance. Lillis is serving his time in Wheatfield Prison in Dublin, anyone who reads the papers knows that his prisoner number is now 55511 and that he shares a landing with such high profile names as David Bourke and Finn Colclough.
But this latest twist in the story was of a far more practical nature. As Celine Cawley’s husband, Lillis was automatically the executor of her estate. Yesterday he relinquished that right and the role of executor was instead handed over to Celine’s brother and sister, Chris Cawley and Susanna Coonan.
A woman dies and the husband is accused of killing her these small details of a person’s death take on a new significance. Whether convicted of murder or manslaughter or even acquitted, once the husband has been looked at in this way small matters of probate become front page news. It’s actually quite unusual to see a story like this one, where the paper work has been filed at an early stage after conviction and matters appear to be running smoothly.
Compare the headlines in today’s papers, like this one or this, with the kind of stories that have appeared in the past. Joe O’Reilly had a five year battle with his wife’s family over what name should be put on her tombstone. Brian Kearney has hit the headlines for his attempted sale of the Hotel Salvia in Mallorca that he ran with his wife Siobhan. Both men were convicted of murdering their wives.
There were plenty of indignant front pages about attempts by John O’Brien to reclaim items belonging to his wife Meg Walsh, that gardai had seized when they were investigating him for her murder. Despite the fact that Mr O’Brien was acquitted of the crime his involvement in these matters has continued to generate substantial column inches.
Eamonn Lillis is the latest man to enter the exclusive club of high profile Irish wife killers. He was convicted last month of her manslaughter. Despite the fact that a jury of his peers have decided he did not intend to kill his wife, although he was responsible for her death, his financial affairs especially those that are in some way connected with his wife, will continue to make news.
There has already been indignant coverage of the fact that Lillis will inherit half his wife’s estate and a half share of the money raised from the sale of her company Toytown Films. I can see why these stories hit the headlines I’ve just seldom seen a case when the headlines is because someone isn’t doing something rather than because they are.
But then the Lillis case has been an unusual one in a lot of ways.
In completely unrelated news tonight I am a contributor on a new TV3 series on Irish television called Aftermath. I was in last night’s episode talking about the murder of Swiss student Manuela Riedo in Galway. The episode is now up online on the TV3 website if you fancy a look.