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Witness tells murder trial of finding body while walking his dogs

A witness said the deceased was lying on his back and there was discolouring and bruising on his face, neck and throat.

A WITNESS HAS described to the Central Criminal Court the moment he found the dead body of a teenager while taking his dogs for a morning walk.

“I looked up and saw the body. I walked over and said hello, thinking it was someone who was drunk and fell asleep,” witness David Shiels told the trial of the man accused of murdering 18-year-old Cameron Reilly.

Doctor Alan Moran, who pronounced the deceased dead at the scene, also gave evidence today that Gardaí made him aware of a fabric strip that was found 100 yards from the body in a field at Shamrock Hill in Dunleer, Co Louth.

In response to cross examination by defence counsel for Aaron Connolly (22), Willistown, Drumcar, Dr Moran confirmed that the strip “may have been consistent” with marks he observed on the neck of Mr Reilly.

Connolly has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Reilly at Shamrock Hill, Dunleer on 26 May 2018.

The court heard evidence from David Shiels, a resident of the area, who told counsel for the prosecution, Dean Kelly SC, that he was walking his dogs in the green area of the estate that morning when he discovered Reilly’s body.

Shiels said the deceased was lying on his back and there was “discolouring and bruising” on the right-hand side of the face, neck and throat.

He also said there were “a lot of scrape marks” on the front of the neck and the deceased’s hands were “very white and clean”.

“I knew he was dead,” said  Shiels.

He said he returned home and told his wife he had found a body in the field, before he went to the house of his neighbours, who knew first aid.

Catherine Shiels gave evidence that when her husband told her he had found a body, she initially thought he was mistaken, and it was just someone who had fallen asleep in the field.

She told Kelly that when she saw the body, she went into shock.

She said she saw scratches on the deceased’s neck and bruising on the side of his face. She described the body as “chalky white” and “swelled”.

She told the court that her neighbour, Jean Lynch initiated CPR on Mr Reilly, but his lips were blue, and he was “stone cold”.

Lynch gave evidence that she observed the deceased’s chin area was “scuffed-looking and red”.

“There were no gashes, but the chin was grazed, and his tongue was sticking out slightly through his teeth. The eyes were slightly open, and there was bruising, with blue and red scuff marks in the chin and neck area,” said Lynch.

She said she checked for a pulse on his neck and his wrist, but she did not feel anything.

“He was very cold,” she said.

She told the court that she began chest compressions on him and heard “a gassiness coming out”. She said she carried on with CPR for a few minutes just to make sure nothing was being left to chance.

In response to cross examination from defence counsel, Michael Bowman SC, Lynch confirmed that the “scuffs or scrape marks” on the deceased’s chin suggested there had been contact with a hard surface, and the marks were not something that would have been caused by clothing.

The paramedic who attended the scene, Debbie McCole gave evidence that she noticed “pooling” on the right side of the body caused by the heart not pumping blood. She said that the blood gathers in certain areas under the skin, and this is an obvious sign of death.

She said the only injury on the body was neck trauma, with a lot of bruising around the neck.

The court heard from friends of Mr Reilly that a group of people gathered in the field on the night, where alcohol and cannabis were consumed.

Rebecca McGuinness gave evidence that she, Mr Reilly, and Adam Fitzgerald went to the field around 9pm to meet friends.

She said there were between seven and ten people in the field, including Aaron Connolly. She said that there was also another group of people in the corner of the field.

McGuinness gave evidence that several people were drinking. She said she left around 12.10, and Mr Reilly gave her a hug and a kiss. She said she did not see Mr Reilly again after that.

In response to cross examination by Bowman, McGuinness said she did not know the other group of people who were present in the field, but she described them as “an older group”.

Adam Fitzgerald gave evidence that he was in the field with friends, and the accused was also present.

In response to a question from Kelly, Fitzgerald confirmed that some people were “smoking weed” in the field.

He said everyone left the field at the same time, with some of them then going to a local takeaway, including Mr Reilly.

In response to a question from Bowman, Fitzgerald confirmed that the accused was already drinking in the field when he arrived that night.

In his opening speech at the beginning of the trial, Kelly said it is the prosecution’s case that at a point between 12.40am and 1.40am on 26 May 26 Connolly intentionally brought about the death of Cameron Reilly.

He told the jury there could be no doubt that Reilly was alive just before 1am and that he subsequently died violently. Counsel said it was for them to decide whether or not Aaron Connolly did it.

The trial continues on Friday before Justice Tony Hunt and the jury of seven women and five men.