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Patricia O'Connor murder trial: Handyman has one of two charges withdrawn by trial judge

The trial also heard from the mother of murder accused Kieran Greene.

Patricia O'Connor
Patricia O'Connor

A HANDYMAN HAS had a charge of refurbishing a bathroom in order to conceal evidence of the alleged murder of retired grandmother Patricia O’Connor withdrawn from a Central Criminal Court jury by direction of the trial judge.

Also today, the mother of murder accused Kieran Greene told his trial that her son was assessed when he was in first class in primary school and found to be “two and a half years behind”. She said he had no previous girlfriends before meeting his former partner Louise O’Connor. 

Trial judge Mr Justice Paul McDermott told the jury this afternoon that there had been a development in Keith Johnston’s case and he was “withdrawing” one of the two counts from them as a result of legal argument. 

The judge told the jury that they were “no longer engaged” in the decision-making role in relation to one of the counts against Mr Johnston and said “the state of play” in relation to the remaining counts on the indictment against each of the accused were the same.

Mr Johnston (43), of Avonbeg Gardens, Tallaght, Dublin 24 is charged with impeding the apprehension or prosecution of Kieran Greene, knowing or believing him to have committed an arrestable offence, to wit the murder of Mrs O’Connor (61) on May 29, 2017.

Mr Justice McDermott told the jury “various legal submissions” had been made to him since the prosecution had closed its case. He said he was withdrawing the first charge against Mr Johnston, where he was accused of engaging in the refurbishment of a bathroom at Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 between May 31, 2017 and June 9, 2017, in order to destroy or conceal any evidence relating to the murder of Mrs O’Connor.

The judge said he had made his decision and told the jury that they were no longer engaged in the decision-making role in relation to this charge saying: “You simply accept that.”

“The state of play in relation to the remaining counts on the indictment in respect of each of the counts against the accused remains the same,” he explained. 

Mr Johnston remains on trial in relation to the second charge, which is that he allegedly assisted Mr 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 used in the concealment of the remains of Mrs O’Connor. He denies this charge.

It is the State’s case against Mr Johnston that Mrs O’Connor was already lying dead in a shallow grave in Wexford but not yet dismembered when he assisted Mr Greene in purchasing various DIY items. 

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

Former Depute State Pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis, has given 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.

The mother of Mr Greene, Joan Greene, entered the witness box this afternoon to give evidence in her son’s defence in the fifth week of his trial. She told defence counsel Conor Devally SC that her son Kieran had a younger sister and he had been raised in Millbrook Lawns in Tallaght.  

‘Two and a half years behind’

Father-of-three Mr Greene (35) has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mrs O’Connor at her home in Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 on May 29, 2017. Mr Greene is the former partner of Louise O’Connor and father to three of her five children.

In her evidence, Mrs Greene said her son received extra tuition at primary school and he was assessed when he was about seven years old. It was found that he was about “two and a half years behind”, she said. 

The witness told Mr Devally that her son was taken out of class and got extra one-to-one tutoring for a lot of subjects. She agreed with the barrister that there were no special needs assistants when he was younger and said there had just been a teacher there to help. 

Mrs Greene testified that her son lived in the family home in Tallaght until he met Louise O’Connor and moved to Mountainview Park. He had no previous girlfriends prior to meeting Louise, she said.

The witness said she was invited to be a guardian, were it necessary, to Louise and Mr Greene’s three children in September 2017. Mrs Greene agreed with Mr Devally that this was in the eventuality that her son or Louise were not able to discharge their parental roles.

In cross-examination, Mrs Greene agreed with Michael Bowman SC, for Louise O’Connor, that she signed a document in relation to the guardianship of the three children on September 15, 2017. She further agreed that this arose in the circumstances where Louise O’Connor had been arrested and was taken into custody on September 2, 2017.
The trial has heard that Mr Greene had concerns up to a certain time for the future of his children and these concerns had lessened when he spoke to gardai in December 2017. 
In cross-examination, Mrs Greene told James Dwyer SC, for Keith Johnston, that her son had gone into custody in June 2017 and she had spoken to him while visiting him in prison. She agreed with Mr Dwyer that her son’s health had deteriorated “a little” whilst in custody saying: “I was a bit concerned and I was told they put him on some medications, that’s all I knew.”

Asked by Mr Dwyer if she herself had found that he had deteriorated, Mrs Greene said her son had lost a bit of weight, was tired and very withdrawn.

Mr Dwyer asked the witness if she would have described him as paranoid. “Yeah, I think I would,” she replied.

The barrister asked the witness if Mr Greene was “seeing things”. “He wasn’t seeing things, he was saying things,” she said.

Mr Devally told the court he was not calling any more evidence for Mr Greene and defence barristers for each of the other three other accused said they would not be calling any evidence. 

Mr Justice McDermott told the jury that the next stage of the trial would be closing speeches by barristers for the prosecution and defence. “This will require you listening to five closing speeches and you will have to listen to me for a considerable period of time as well,” he pointed out.

He told the jurors to return on Monday afternoon for the next phase of the trial and asked them not to discuss the case with anyone. 

The deceased’s daughter Louise O’Connor (41) and granddaughter Stephanie O’Connor (22), both of Millmount Court, Dundrum Road, Dublin 14, and Louise O’Connor’s ex-partner Keith Johnston (43), of Avonbeg Gardens, Tallaght, Dublin 24 are all charged with impeding the apprehension or prosecution of Mr Greene, knowing or believing him to have committed an arrestable offence, to wit the murder of Patricia O’Connor on May 29, 2017.

Mother-of-five Louise O’Connor has pleaded not guilty to agreeing to or acquiescing in her daughter Stephanie O’Connor disguising herself as Patricia O’Connor at Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 on May 29, 2017 in order to conceal the fact that Patricia O’Connor was dead. 

Stephanie O’Connor has pleaded not guilty to disguising herself as Mrs O’Connor at Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 at a point in time after her murder on May 29, 2017 in order to conceal the fact that she was already dead. 

Mr Johnston has pleaded not  guilty to assisting Mr 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 used in the concealment of the remains of Mrs O’Connor. 

The trial has already heard that six months after he was charged with her murder, Mr Greene changed his account of killing and dismembering his partner’s mother. 

Evidence has been given that Mr Greene walked into Rathfarnham Garda Station on June 12, 2017 and told a detective that he had done “something terrible” and dismembered the body of Mrs O’Connor on his own. However, the accused man told gardai on December 9 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. 

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About the author:

Alison O'Riordan

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