Dublin man accused of beheading mum in murder trial
Published 09/01/2014 | 02:30
A man accused of beating his Dublin mother to death before dismembering her body.
A jury at the High Court in Edinburgh has heard that the remains of Phyllis Dunleavy (66), from Marino in Dublin, were discovered on Corstorphine Hill in the city, close to the home of her son.
Her son James (40) is on trial accused of beheading his mother, then burying her dismembered body. He denies battering her to death between April 30 and May 7 last year.
He also denies trying to cover up the alleged murder and destroying evidence.
At the time, Mr Dunleavy was living in a flat in Edinburgh's Balgreen Road, close to where the body was unearthed.
Yesterday, the court heard evidence from a cyclist who described how he was enjoying a day in the sun when he stumbled across the body of Ms Dunleavy.
Ski instructor Aaron McLean-Foreman (24) said he was left in shock and disbelief at an Edinburgh beauty spot when he found teeth and a skull in a woodland clearing.
It was some time before he could compose himself enough to go to police and report the grisly find, the court was told.
Mr McLean-Foreman described to the court the events of a sunny June 6 last year at the Corstorphine Hill nature reserve.
"I decided to have a break in the sunshine and relax and enjoy the fine weather," Mr McLean-Foreman said.
He looked for a clear place to sit and noticed a clearing ahead.
"Almost immediately, the first thing I noticed was very white teeth -- teeth and a skull."
There were marks in the earth, which he thought had been made by a shovel.
A photo of the sight which had confronted Mr McLean-Foreman was shown in court.
Mr McLean-Foreman continued: "I have seen a fair share of sheep skulls and deer skulls while walking in the hills. I wanted to believe that was what I was looking at -- but it was fairly clear that was not what I was looking at."
Mr McLean-Foreman took a photo so that he could lead police back to the spot and then left.
"I believe I went into a state something like shock," he said.
Later that afternoon, he went to his local police station.
The murder charge alleges that in Mr Dunleavy's Balgreen Road flat he inflicted "blunt force trauma" by means unknown, compressed his mother's throat and cut off her head and legs with a blade and something like a saw.
A second charge accuses him of pretending that his mother was unwell and had returned to Ireland.
The charge further alleges that Mr Dunleavy put his mother's torso, severed legs and head into a suitcase and took the dismembered body to Corstorphine Hill, where he buried her.
The trial continues.