A MAN accused of beheading his mum and burying her in a shallow grave told a pal "I might be evil" a murder trial heard today.
James Dunleavy, 40, had been showing a keen interest in Islam, after also experimenting with Buddhism and New Age beliefs.
He told a pal that he had been hearing voices in his head and that the Koran would not protect him.
Shop manager Mohammed Razaq - who used Dunleavy's bedroom to pray when he could not get to his local mosque - told the High Court in Edinburgh of their conversations - just weeks before the dismembered remains of Dunleavy's mother were found in a secluded woodland clearing.
Mr Razaq, 40, said there was a bond between them "like brothers" and he had a set of keys for Dunleavy's flat, which was above in shop in Edinburgh's Balgreen Road.
He went on to tell how their friendship broke down soon after Dunleavy's mum, Philomena, 66, came from her home in Marino, Dublin, to visit her son in late April last year.
Mr Razaq witnessed a conversation when Dunleavy was angry and agitated because his mum had split with his dad and moved in with another man.
Dunleavy claimed she had been "brainwashed" by a group of women he called "the witches".
"I was concerned I had left them in a state of not being friends," said Mr Razaq.
When he tried to visit again the following evening, Dunleavy would not let him in. "I put the key into the door of the house. I had opened the door barely a foot and James stood in the house and blocked it with his foot."
Mr Razaq told the trial that Dunleavy said: "My mum is not well. She is sleeping. You cannot come in tonight."
The shop manager continued: "He had never done that before. I was taken aback, slightly upset.
"I thought maybe I had done something the previous night which had upset him and our friendship was at risk."
He added that Dunleavy looked as though he had not slept: "It was odd to me.
"His appearance is normally smart but he looked very dishevelled."
The trial heard that Dunleavy even turned down an invitation to a Muslim wedding in Dundee, claiming he was looking after his mother.
Mr Razaq was then told that Mrs Dunleavy had returned to Dublin - without saying good-bye to her son.
He also noticed that Dunleavy who had been "off cigarettes for a while" had started smoking again.
Then Dunleavy came into his shop one evening and stayed, talking, until closing time.
"His opening comment to me was 'I might be evil. I might be hearing voices in my head.'"
Mr Razaq said: "My reply was 'That is the Devil in your head, talking to you. Keep the Koran beside yourself to protect yourself' and he said: 'That does not work.'
Dunleavy also told him: "Soon your faith will be tested," but did not explain what he meant.
Mr Razaq said his last meeting with Dunleavy was at the mosque when Dunleavy refused to shake his hand and Mr Razaq returned his keys.
Mr Razaq agreed with defence QC Gordon Jackson that although there had been "a lively discussion" between Dunleavy and his mother about her marriage break-up there had been no threat of violence.
Earlier the trial heard how Mrs Dunleavy may have been given "a Christian burial" on Edinburgh's Corstorphine Hill.
Dr Jennifer Miller, 51, whose 20 year career as an expert forensic archeologist has seen her involved in 575 cases, described how Mrs Dunleavy's remains had been unearthed.
"Everything was facing east," she said. In an archeological context that would suggest a Christian burial. It is facing the rising sun."
Dunleavy - also known as Seamus Dunleavy - denies battering his mother to death between April 30 and May 7 last year.
He also denies attempting to defeat the ends of justice by trying to cover up the alleged murder and destroy evidence.
At the time, Dunleavy was living in a flat Edinburgh's Balgreen Road.
The murder charge alleges that it was there that 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 Dunleavy of pretending his mum was unwell and had returned to Ireland.
The charge further alleges that 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.
Prosecutors also claim that Dunleavy vacuumed and washed his flat to remove blood stains and torched a bed and mattress.
The trial continues.