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Daughter found guilty of impeding prosecution in mother's murder trial

The jury found Louise was an “integral part” of the charade and had acted in support of her daughter Stephanie.

Image: Garda Press/Rollingnews

Updated Feb 27th 2020, 1:58 PM

A CENTRAL CRIMINAL Court jury has convicted a mother-of-five of agreeing to “a ruse” in which her daughter disguised herself as her grandmother, who had been bludgeoned to death, in order to conceal the murder.

The deceased’s daughter Louise O’Connor (41) was today found guilty of impeding the apprehension or prosecution of Kieran Greene (35), knowing or believing him to have murdered her mother Patricia O’Connor (61) on May 29, 2017.

The jury accepted the State’s case that Louise had agreed to or acquiesced in her daughter Stephanie O’Connor (22) disguising herself as Mrs O’Connor at Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 on 29 May 2017 in order to conceal the fact that Patricia O’Connor was dead.

They found Louise was an “integral part” of the charade and had acted in support of her daughter Stephanie.

The jury accepted the State’s case that Stephanie had entered into “a charade” by disguising herself as her grandmother to create “an indelible record” on CCTV footage that the former hospital cleaner was actually “alive and well” and had walked out of the house at 9.34pm that night.

In her closing speech, senior counsel Roisin Lacey said this was done in case it was needed to bolster any statements to anyone who was legitimately looking for Mrs O’Connor or if she was reported as a missing person down the line.

Father-of-three Greene has been found guilty of murdering retired hospital worker Mrs O’Connor and inflicting “catastrophic injuries” on her in a sustained attack, which lasted up to 20 minutes and took place in the bathroom of her Rathfarnham home.

The jurors took ten hours and 25 minutes to come to their unanimous verdict in Louise O’Connor’s case. The forewoman of the jury confirmed to the registrar that they had not reached a further verdict in relation to the remaining count against Louise’s ex-boyfriend Keith Johnston (43).

‘No smoking gun’

Following today’s verdict, Justice Paul McDermott asked the jury of six men and five women to suspend their deliberations and go for lunch. He asked them to return to court at 2.20pm.

The seven-week trial heard that the body of Mrs O’Connor, of Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 was dismembered into 15 separate parts that were found at nine different locations over a 30km range in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains between 10 and 14 June 2017.

Former Deputy State Pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis, gave evidence that Mrs O’Connor’s head was struck a minimum of three blows with a solid implement and the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

Prosecution counsel Roisin Lacey SC said in her closing statement that the cases against Stephanie and her mother Louise were “inextricably linked”.

Louise was “an integral part” of the charade and had acted in support of her daughter, she submitted. The jury could infer that she acquiesced or agreed to the ruse by her actions on the night and the answers she gave gardai in her interviews, said Lacey.

Stephanie was seen talking in the back garden with her mother Louise and murderer Greene at 9.15pm and 9.21pm on the night of 29 May. 

A “plan was hatched” at these times to have Stephanie pretend “to storm out of the house” in the guise of her grandmother, said Ms Lacey.

Evidence was given that a female could be seen leaving the front of the house in CCTV footage at 9.34pm on 29 May and walking quickly down the driveway with a suitcase in her hand.

At 10.05pm that night, a female with a coat over their arm and carrying a suitcase appeared at the left-hand side of the house and went in the back door. She closed the back door a minute later.

When shown the footage of the figure emerging from the house at 9.34pm, Louise identified this as her mother, Patricia O’Connor.

“Louise is quite clear that it is her mother leaving the house, there is no equivocation, no ambiguity and no margin for error,” said Lacey.

Despite there being no direct evidence of Louise agreeing or acquiescing to her daughter disguising herself, the prosecution said the jury could infer this from the coincidence in timing. Louise was seen on CCTV walking out of the house a minute after the female figure left at 9.34pm and again five minutes before the figure returned.

If the jury were satisfied that the person leaving with the suitcase was Stephanie then what Louise had told gardai was a lie, submitted Ms Lacey, adding that Louise was a “vital link” in the contrivance.

Stephanie told gardai that CCTV footage at 10.05pm showed her coming from the garden shed but she could not remember how she got out there. She said she was bringing in a bag from the shed for her mother Louise. “It’s just a bag from the shed…my Mam asked me to bring it in… I do what I’m told,” she told detectives.

Greene was seen on CCTV footage closing the curtains at the back of house on 29 May at 6.52pm. A minute later, Louise O’Connor, Stephanie O’Connor and some of the children left the house to go to the park.

Evidence was given that when gardaí asked Louise in her interviews why she had left the house to go to the park, she replied that she wanted “to get peace from my mum”. When gardaí asked Louise whether they had left the house to get “permanent peace”, she denied this, stating: “If you are saying we left so he [Greene] could do something, you’re sadly mistaken”.

Louise O’Connor told interviewing detectives that she did not “harm a hair” on her mother’s head and said she would go to her grave knowing that. She also told gardai that despite everything, she really loved her mother.

Defence counsel Michael Bowman SC with John Griffin BL said in his closing speech that his client’s case was “very different” to the other cases.

There was “no smoking gun” establishing the guilt of Louise on 29 May and the prosecution had engaged in “wild speculation”, he told the jury. He said an “evidential deficit” existed in Louise’s case.

Murderer Greene had given two accounts of Mrs O’Connor’s death.

In an interview with gardai in June 2017, Greene said he was in the bathroom when Mrs O’Connor attacked him with a hurley. He maintained that he had disarmed Mrs O’Connor and acted in self-defence by hitting her with a hurley and as a result of that she may have died.

He claimed he was the only one involved in the physical altercation and had acted alone in removing her body from the house, burying her in a shallow grave in Co Wexford and subsequently dismembering her.

The trial heard that six months after he was charged with her murder, Greene changed his account of killing and dismembering his partner’s mother. While on remand in Cloverhill Prison in December 2017, Greene told gardai that he had taken “the rap” and felt he was being set-up, as his girlfriend Louise O’Connor subsequently started going back out with her ex-boyfriend Keith Johnston.

In his December interview, Greene claimed he was not responsible for Mrs O’Connor’s death, that her husband Augustine ‘Gus’ O’Connor had killed her with a crowbar and that other family members had been involved in the death.

The jury is expected to resume its deliberations this afternoon in relation to the remaining accused Keith Johnston.

Johnston has pleaded not guilty to assisting Greene in the purchase of various implements at Woodie’s, Mr Price, B&Q and Shoe Zone, Tallaght, Dublin 24 on June 9, 2017, which were to be deployed in the concealment of the remains of Mrs O’Connor.

Johnston is the ex-partner of Louise O’Connor and father to two of her five children including Stephanie.

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About the author:

Alison O'Riordan

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