It’s been reported in the papers today that Celine Cawley’s family are suing her husband Eamonn Lillis for a greater share of his wife’s estate. Lillis was convicted back in February of killing his wife – he hit her over the head three times but the jury decided that the prosecution had failed to prove that he intended to kill her. Under Irish succession laws he loses the right to inherit his wife’s half of the estate after being convicted of her manslaughter but he will still inherit his half of any property and assets the couple owned together.
The reports today say that Celine’s brother and sister Chris and Susanne Cawley are suing Lillis to ensure that his daughter with Celine will inherit a larger share of the couple’s €4 million fortune. The girl, who’s 17, is living with her mother’s family since her father was sent to jail. She will turn 18 in November and will come into her inheritance. She will also lose the anonymity guaranteed her as a minor so closely linked to a criminal trial. At Lillis’s sentencing, in a heartfelt victim impact statement Susanne Cawley spoke about the families concerns for the girl. It’s unsurprising therefore that they want to make sure she has the resources to protect herself from any unwanted attention.
Her parents owned three properties. Rowan Hill on Howth Head, where the family lived at the time of her mother’s death, a dream holiday home in France and an earlier home in Sutton. As things stand at the moment, Lillis could veto any property sales his daughter may choose to make. Her mother’s family wish to change this.
It’s not the first time that Celine Cawley’s will has hit the headlines. Soon after the trial, while I was working on the book of her tragic death and the subsequent legal proceedings, I wrote here about Lillis’s stepping down as executor of his wife’s will. I commented at the time about the curious politeness that has followed these horrific events. It appears now that the gloves have come off.