Murder victim cried and pleaded but they stabbed him 64 times
Published 01/11/2015 | 02:30
Three men walked down a lane at a remote bog in north Kerry on a dark winter's night, but only two returned.
That was the haunting image lodged in the memory of jurors at the Central Criminal Court by prosecutor Conor Devally during the six-day trial of John Paul Cawley (22).
On Friday, dressed in an ill-fitting black suit, Cawley of Ardoughter, Ballyduff, Co Kerry was given a life sentence for the murder of Bruno Lemes de Sousa (28).
This was the second time a jury had convicted him of the murder at Shronowen Bog, Listowel, between February 16 and 17, 2012.
He had successfully appealed his conviction in 2013 in May on the grounds that the trial judge failed to adequately direct the jury on the onus of proof.
Cawley was just 19 when he plunged a kitchen knife into a stomach of Brazilian national Bruno Lemes de Sousa, a man he had met for the first time only hours before.
It was the first of 64 stab wounds that penetrated bone and muscle, severing the jugular vein of the victim and piercing his vital organs.
The trial heard how he had been beaten first with a torque wrench in the house in Ballyduff and held prisoner in the attic before being brought to the bog.
Cawley told gardai he had cried and pleaded for his life as he was led down a lane and spoken "Brazilian" to one of his captors.
His partially decomposed body was found lying in a drain at the bog three weeks later.
He had died of shock and haemorrhage due to multiple stab wounds but Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margot Bolster, could not say which of these on its own would have proved fatal.
During the course of six garda interviews, Cawley told gardai he didn't know why he had done it and that as soon as he had, he "felt bad".
The only explanation that was ever offered throughout both trials was that he had been asked for his help in carrying out the killing because his sister Sandra's partner, Wenio Rodrigues da Silva (31) - who is also serving a life sentence for the murder - had become angry and said Bruno had been going around Gort in Co Galway saying Sandra "sounded sexy", was a "fine thing" and was "probably hot".
He told gardai: "It was not my idea. Wenio asked me to help him. I just wanted to get the first one over and done with. I did not want to stab him after that."
When he was finally arrested on March 11, following statements by his own family members at Clonmel Garda Station, Cawley admitted to gardai: "I killed him, I killed him. I'll tell you the truth."
Det Sgt Bill Stack said he rocked himself backwards and forwards in the back of the squad car as he repeated his confession, blessing himself.
The accused had been "dealt one of the worst hands" and was an "unfortunate man" who was under the influence of a "monster", defending counsel Anthony Sammon told the trial.
The second youngest of 11 children, Cawley had spent a lot of his childhood in various foster homes in Co Tipperary. His father died at the age of 48 and his mother Elizabeth was a chronic alcoholic.
He had a low IQ that put his intellectual functioning in the mild mental handicap to normal range, but the jury did not accept his defence that he was guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility, under the provisions of the 2006 Criminal Law (Insanity) Act.
Three members of the family - his sisters, Sandra and Martina, and younger brother Charlie, were all witnesses for the prosecution.
Charlie and Sandra had been present in the house that night and waited in a car at the bog with her two young children while the deed was done.
That was the only presence by family during the trial. Otherwise, Cawley was a lonely figure in the dock without a family member or friend, awaiting the outcome of his fate.
His face lit up on seeing his solicitor Helena O'Carroll approach him on Friday, before the jury had returned, to ask him how he was holding up.
The jury learned very little about the victim - except that he was Brazilian, lived in Gort, Co Galway with his partner Patricia da Silva and her son, and dabbled in selling cars - least of all, any plausible reason why he was the one who didn't return from that lonely boreen leading down to the bog.
Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster took well over an hour to list the injuries to Mr de Souza.
There were lacerations of the skull by a blunt weapon consistent with a heavy torque wrench and 64 wounds or lacerations including through the Adam's Apple, the jugular vein, rib cage, lung, liver, left kidney and left ventricle of the heart.
Cawley was arrested on March 12, 2012 and has been in custody since.
After an hour and 24 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty on Friday.