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Valerie French Kilroy. Garda Press Office
Central Criminal Court

Jury discharged after Valerie French Kilroy murder trial encounters 'unexpected complex matter'

‘No one is at fault, it is not something that could have been foreseen or dealt with’, the jury were told.

THE MURDER TRIAL of James Kilroy, who admitted killing his wife Valerie at their rural Co Mayo home, has collapsed at the Central Criminal Court this afternoon due to an “unexpected, complex matter” that has arisen in the case. 

Evidence was scheduled to continue before the 12 jurors today but Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring told the ten men and two women that she has been left in the “unfortunate position” of having to discharge them and put the matter back to allow the issue to be resolved. 

The trial has been sitting since 8 March and heard a week of evidence since opening at the Criminal Courts of Justice.

Last Wednesday, the jury were told that the trial would be adjourned until today as it had “unforeseeably come to a bump in the road”.

The judge said a matter had arisen which had been unknown to all parties. 

“No one is at fault, it is not something that could have been foreseen or dealt with. It has led to both parties needing further time,” she added. 

Ms Justice Ring had asked the jury to return to court this afternoon “to give all parties time to sort out the issues”. 

Park ranger Mr Kilroy (49), with an address at Kilbree Lower, Westport, Co Mayo is charged with murdering mother of three Valerie French Kilroy (41) at their home on a date unknown between 13 June, 2019 and 14 June, 2019, both dates inclusive.

He had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Addressing the jury today, Ms Justice Ring said she sent them away last Wednesday “having hit a bump in the road” and she hoped in the interim that the parties would be able to come to some resolution to allow matters to continue.

“That has not proved possible and some further time will be required to resolve matters to everyone’s satisfaction,” she said.

The judge said her obligation is to ensure a fair trial for Mr Kilroy.

“A fair trial should meet all people’s needs and bring finality to an accusation, which is ultimately to the benefit of all, including the family of Ms French Kilroy,” she continued. 

Ms Justice Ring said it was “clearly regrettable” and that the parties had reached “a complex matter unexpectedly” in the trial which needed to be dealt with.

“The case will be given priority, it won’t be allowed to linger in a very long list but beyond that there is nothing else I can do,” she stated. 

The judge thanked the jury for their commitment to the case before discharging them from their civic duty. She exempted the 12 jurors from jury service for seven years. 

She listed Mr Kilroy’s trial for mention before the Central Criminal Court on 27 March.

“Hopefully some indication of a trial date can be reserved into the future,” she concluded. 

The Chief State Pathologist had told the murder trial that occupational therapist Ms French Kilroy died from ligature strangulation, blunt force trauma to the head and a stab wound to the neck. 

Evidence had been given that gardai found Valerie’s body lying in the foetal position on the floor of a campervan with her bloodied hand protruding outside the sliding door and a child’s car seat over her face. 

Patrick Gageby SC, defending Mr Kilroy, had made a number of formal admissions to the court on behalf of his client including that he killed his wife Valerie.

The jury had heard that the defendant described to gardaí how he “waited in the long grass” at night for his wife to return home from a meeting with friends before silently carrying out a “dark and frenzied” attack.

Alison O'Riordan