Saturday 10 December 2016

Cheating husband made up burglar assault story

Producer denies he murdered his wife at home

Nicola Anderson, Brian Hutton and Natasha Reid

Published 13/01/2010 | 05:00

A CHEATING husband accused of murdering his business partner wife admitted he made up a story about a burglar attacking them in their luxury home, his trial heard yesterday.

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Television producer Eamonn Lillis was also having an affair with another woman in the months running up to the gruesome death of mother-of-one Celine Cawley, it was revealed.

The 52-year-old defendant originally told investigators he happened upon a balaclava-clad intruder assaulting his 46-year-old wife at the back of their home in the exclusive suburb of Howth, north Dublin, just over a year ago.

But on the opening day of his trial, defence barrister Brendan Grehan said Mr Lillis, who denies murdering his wife, admitted he had lied and that there was no one else there but him on the day his wife suffered horrific injuries.

Lover

His secret lover Jean Treacy is expected to give evidence that the accused told her he had a row with Ms Cawley which turned physical.

Mr Lillis also told her that both he and Ms Cawley were worried about what to tell their daughter, and that his wife suggested making up a story about a burglar, said prosecutors.

The unusual step was also taken to play the tape of the emergency call Mr Lillis made at 10.04 that morning in which he claimed his wife had been attacked by an intruder.

Ms Cawley was found on decking at the rear of the family home 'Rowan Hill', on Windgate Road, with serious head injuries on the morning of December 15, 2008.

Her husband had telephoned emergency services and initially claimed he had been out walking their dogs and found his wife being set upon by a masked man when he returned.

Mr Lillis told gardai that he tried to intervene but the intruder attacked him before running away. He even nominated a suspect, who was investigated and forensically ruled out.

Deputy state pathologist Michael Curtis will give evidence to the murder trial, expected to last three weeks, that Ms Cawley suffered a blow to the head and then two further blows to the back of her head as she lay face down on the decking.

It is believed she died from loss of blood and an inability to breath while lying face down, a reaction made worse by the fact that the former model had become clinically obese.

The couple were well-known among advertising circles in Ireland through their company, Toytown Productions, which makes commercials for television and cinema.

Their teenage daughter is also expected to testify that her father told her that her mother had slipped and hit her head on a brick.

He claimed Ms Cawley then took the brick into the kitchen before turning on him.

Prosecutor Mary Ellen Ring claimed Mr Lillis had alleged to his daughter that the scuffle moved outside where Ms Cawley fell and hit her head again on the brick.

Forensic analysis of three mobile telephones used by the defendant revealed he was having an "intimate and sexual" affair with Ms Treacy, the trial also heard. Although he initially denied it, Mr Lillis later confessed to the liaison but insisted it had nothing to do with his wife's death.

Injuries

Ms Ring said the jury would hear from Ms Treacy, who was in contact with the defendant some time after he was charged.

"The row became physical and led to the injuries on both," said the prosecutor.

"They were both concerned about what they would say to their daughter, and Ms Cawley suggested saying there was a burglary."

Investigating gardai will also tell the trial they recovered a black refuse bag of blood-stained clothes -- jeans, a black jumper and boxer shorts -- in the attic of the defendant's house during follow-up searches.

Tissue and blood found embedded in the face of a watch worn by the accused as well as a blood-soaked polo shirt and black boots found in his wardrobe also matched DNA samples of his late wife.

An effort had been made to wipe the watch, the court heard, and there was tissue embedded in its clasp. The sink in the adjoining upstairs bathroom was also blood-stained.

The jury of six men and six women before Mr Justice Barry White at Dublin's Central Criminal Court was told Mr Lillis also claimed a day after his initial statement that he had blanked out for a while after being assaulted.

CCTV footage of the defendant buying a newspaper and evidence of him speaking with the vice-principal of his daughter's school on the morning of the murder will be used to argue he had changed his clothes when he returned home, the prosecution said.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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