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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Murder Trial

Trial hears that Valerie French Kilroy died from a head injury, strangulation and a stab wound

The trial has also heard that James Kilroy demonstrated to gardai in an interview how he had killed his wife and at one point sketched the knife he had used.

MOTHER OF THREE and occupational therapist Valerie French Kilroy died from ligature strangulation, blunt force trauma to the head and a stab wound to the neck, the Chief State Pathologist has told a murder trial.

The Central Criminal Court jury also heard from a witness that he would “normally” have a nice vista from his kitchen window overlooking Croagh Patrick but on the morning of June 14 2019 a “strange event unfolded” in front of him when he saw a naked man walking in circles in a field.

Park ranger James Kilroy (49), with an address at Kilbree Lower, Westport, Co Mayo is charged with murdering Ms French Kilroy (41) at their home on a date unknown between June 13 2019 and June 14 2019, both dates inclusive. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

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

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

Witness Niall Corrigan told Mr Gageby today that he lived in Derrygorman in Westport. He said he would “normally” have a nice vista from his kitchen with Croagh Patrick in the distance.

Around 9.15am on the morning of June 14 Mr Corrigan said he looked out the window. “I saw a strange event unfold in front of me and it transpired to be a naked man so it took me a while to comprehend what I was looking at,” he said.

Mr Corrigan said the naked man, who the jury has already heard was Mr Kilroy, was walking in circles, crouching and looked quite agitated. His first impression was that it was someone coming from a party so he didn’t give it “the level of attention at that moment in time”, he said.

Rightly or wrongly, Mr Corrigan said, he took a photograph with his phone; “not to share, just as evidence in case it was ever required”.

The naked man was going in the direction of Croagh Patrick, he said.

After Mr Corrigan rang gardai he saw the man cross a country road and meet his neighbour.

“They had a slight conversation, he [the neighbour] asked him if he was ok, he [the naked man] said he was heading towards Croagh Patrick to atone for his sins or something like that,” he continued.

Gardai arrived at this stage and found the man after 15 minutes. Mr Corrigan said in the meantime he went to get blankets to put around the naked man; “just for himself and for anyone that might be passing”.

Ms Anne Marie Lawlor SC, prosecuting, read a statement from Chief State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan, who said that she conducted a post mortem on Ms French Kilroy on June 15 2019.

In her evidence, Dr Mulligan said Ms French Kilroy died from ligature strangulation in association with blunt force trauma to the head and a stab wound to the neck. Contributory factors to death were incised wounds to the hands, she said.

The expert witness said she was informed that the deceased had experienced fertility problems in the past and that she was last seen alive by colleagues leaving work at 5pm on June 13. The next morning a naked man, who was found three miles from the deceased’s home, was arrested and taken to the local hospital, she said.

Dr Mulligan said she entered the scene at Kilbree Lower at 12.20pm on June 15 and noted blood on the bathroom door and in the bath. There were also clumps of hair in the bathroom sink.

The witness said that adjacent to a camper van in the shed area was a large amount of blood and broken glass. On the floor well at the back of the van was the deceased’s body with the legs bent up.

She was lying partially on her back and there was blood-staining all over the body. There was an obvious incised wound to the left hand and an obvious stab wound to the left side of the neck, she said.

Dr Mulligan pointed out the deceased’s hair was severely blood-stained and fine petechiae [small spots of bleeding] were identified in both eyes. There was bruising around her lips as well as hairs and significant blood-staining over each hand.

The witness said Ms French Kilroy was dressed in a green hooded outdoor jacket and there was blood-staining on the front and back. Dirt and glass from the vehicle was also present on the jacket.

The deceased was wearing a cream woollen jumper underneath the jacket. Over the upper part of the jumper there was significant blood-staining with glass and debris caught in the woollen hairs. Her ‘Hunter’ Wellington boots also had significant blood-staining, she said.

The ligature mark went over the thyroid cartilage, around the back of the head and behind the left ear lobe. It was composed of a band of red bruising and was 4.8cm in width.

The stab wound to the neck was 5cm below the left ear lobe and 4.7cm in length. The wound was pointed at the medial end and blunt at the lateral end with an upward trajectory. It had sliced through the back of the tongue and back of the larynx to a depth of 8cm.

The centre of the right hand had an incised wound of 2.3cm in length and there was a large gaping incised wound to the back of the left hand, which measured 6cm horizontally. This had caused damage to the metacarpal bone.

In conclusion, Dr Mulligan said there was evidence of blunt force trauma to the face and head including two full thickness lacerations on the right side of the head, which caused a significant skull fracture. There was no associated brain swelling.

The stab wound to the left side of the neck had caused significant damage to the back of the tongue and upper airways and led to an accumulation of blood.

The severe head injury would have led to respiratory compromise, coma and death, she said.

The ligature mark was thick and was most likely caused by something broad with a rough surface. The deceased also had defensive wounds to her hands.

The trial continues before Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring and a jury of ten men and two women.