Celine Cawley murder: Daughter ignores killer Eamon Lillis in court
Published 17/11/2011 | 05:00
THEY are father and daughter, but yesterday they might have passed for total strangers.
Eamon Lillis and Georgia Lillis (18) sat just feet apart in the courtroom but never spoke, and barely even looked at each other.
Lillis (53) was convicted of killing his wife, Ms Lillis's mother Celine Cawley (46), in December 2008 with a brick on the patio of the family home Rowan Hill, in Howth, Co Dublin.
He is serving a sentence of six years and 11 months at Wheatfield prison for manslaughter.
But the full extent of the breakdown in the father-daughter relationship was apparent yesterday as Ms Lillis, along with Ms Cawley's sister Susanna and brother Christopher, began a legal action in the High Court over assets of more than €1m held jointly by her parents.
The young woman, who described herself as a "strong person", told the court in an affidavit she would rather "stick pins in my eyes" than have her father return to within six miles of the family home after his release from prison.
It was the polar opposite to the picture painted by her father who told how he was finding prison a difficult "alien world" and that his daughter was his "only reason for living".
Counsel for Lillis, Seamus O Tuathail, argued he was entitled to 50pc of the properties he owned jointly with his late wife -- including the home at Rowan Hill, Howth; a property at Sutton, Co Dublin; and around €68,000 in investments and bonds.
The joint ownership of a holiday home in France is due to be determined in French courts.
The court heard the killing at the Howth home had reduced its market value from around €1.1m to between €750,000 to €800,000, while the Sutton property was now worth around €190,000 to €220,000.
He is legally prevented from inheriting any of his wife's assets because he was convicted of killing her and Lillis has acknowledged he has no claim to assets held solely in his wife's name.
Ms Lillis and her aunt and uncle want the court to clarify the position on what happens to the jointly held assets.
Their counsel, Brian Spierin, argued Lillis could not profit from his crime and sought to have the jointly held assets placed in Ms Cawley's estate for the benefit of her daughter.
Mr Spierin argued if Lillis was found to have an interest in the assets, including the family home, it would have the effect of "binding two people together" in a situation where Ms Lillis had said she did not wish to have any relationship with him after his release from prison.
In her affidavit, Ms Lillis said her father appeared to suggest he was the real victim of the crime rather than her and her mother, and she no longer felt any duty towards him.
She only visited her father in prison once to get answers but "got none".
There was no agreement for him to return to Rowan Hill, the court heard.
Ms Lillis said every milestone in her life would be blighted by her mother's absence and suggested his evidence was self-serving.
Lillis is entitled to around €350,000 following the liquidation of the TV production firm, Toytown Films Ltd, founded by Ms Cawley.
"I did not intend to kill my wife," Lillis said, in an affidavit to the court. He stated he was "filled with remorse".
Ms Lillis smirked as counsel said her father was in "regular telephone contact" with her, and she had visited him in prison.
Lillis stated both he and his daughter were in agreement he could return to the family home.
"She did not turn her back on me when I was sentenced to prison," he said, adding contact with her had broken down since the publication of a newspaper article.
He said he would require the rental income from the Sutton property to live on when he was released from prison. He said his daughter should have been referred for independent legal advice.
Ms Justice Mary Laffoy said she would give her judgment in the case as soon as possible.