Burglary was staged to shield daughter from truth, court told
EAMONN Lillis made a pact with his wife to make a row between them appear like a robbery for their teenage daughter's sake, his trial was told yesterday.
This was the explanation that was offered for the blood-stained clothes discovered by gardai in the attic of their home on Howth summit in the days following Celine Cawley's death. Mr Lillis also wanted to remove evidence of the row from the view of their daughter.
"I knew the minute I came downstairs Celine would say if you are going to make it look like a robbery, what have you done about it," he told the packed courtroom. "And then there'd be another row and that's the last thing I needed."
He told the court they agreed to tell their daughter they had surprised a burglar. After he suggested it, his wife said "yeah, yeah" and waved a hand at him.
He then left her on the patio, and went to the kitchen, where he got kitchen paper and a tea towel to hold to her head.
"I asked her if she was okay," he said. "She said, 'F*** off and leave me alone'," he said. Then he picked up the gloves, kitchen paper and the tea towel and took them into the kitchen.
Mr Lillis said he was aware his wife's head was bleeding, but he understood head wounds generally bleed a lot. He said as her hair was thick and black he could not see the blood and was not aware she was seriously hurt. Her reaction made him think she was not seriously injured, he said.
Mr Lillis began the clean-up operation with a plastic bag. He copied what had been stolen from the house before in an effort to make it appear like a similar burglary.
He went into his room, took off his watch and noticed there was blood on his jeans, so he changed his clothes. He said there was a small case into which he shoved everything and put it in the attic.
Mr Lillis said staging the robbery and changing his clothes took about 10 to 12 minutes. He then went back downstairs.
Asked why he had given a detailed statement to gardai about an intruder, Mr Lillis said: "I didn't know what would happen if I said we had a row. I just got paralysed, I'm sorry."