Painter robbed and killed widow to get cash for bills
Published 05/03/2010 | 05:00
A painter has been found guilty of murdering 60-year-old widow Anne Corcoran after abducting her from her farmhouse during a robbery.
Oliver Hayes (50) of Clancool Terrace, Bandon, Co Cork had pleaded guilty to manslaughter but denied murdering Ms Corcoran between January 19 and 21, 2009.
He admitted falsely imprisoning her in his home and stealing €3,000 from her bank account.
The 11-day trial at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin heard that Hayes was in debt and decided to rob Mrs Corcoran because she was 'a woman on her own' in a big farmhouse and he thought she would have money.
"In January 2009, work was quiet," he told the court. "I had put off paying some of the bigger bills, thinking something might come around the corner."
Hayes had made no mortgage payments on his rubbish-filled, end-of-terrace house in almost two years.
The local credit union was pursuing him for a €10,000 debt, and he couldn't have his damaged van repaired because he owed his mechanic money too. The photography enthusiast also owed a shop for an expensive camera.
"I thought I'd go to some place and rob it," Hayes said, explaining that he knew of Mrs Corcoran as he had worked with her husband, who had given him lifts to work.
About 4.30pm on Monday January 19 last year, Hayes set off on the five-mile walk from Bandon to her farmhouse in Maulnaskimlehane, Kilbrittain.
"I didn't want the van to be seen," he said.
Hayes grabbed Ms Corcoran as she opened the front door on her return. He tied her hands and demanded money. When she said it was in the bank, he demanded her bank card and PIN.
She didn't hand them over so Hayes put her in the boot of her car and drove around for an hour, stopping four times to demand the card, and retie her hands and legs -- with her dog lead. He took her to his house, where he tied and gagged her.
Mrs Corcoran eventually gave her PIN and told Hayes where he'd find her card in her house. He decided to knock her out so she wouldn't raise the alarm.
He beat the widow over the head with a stick but, when this didn't work, he used a heavy table top. Hayes returned to her house and stole her bank cards. He claimed Mrs Corcoran was alive but unconscious when he returned, but had died by Tuesday morning.
The jury heard that Mrs Corcoran died of blunt force trauma to the head. Hayes continued with his life as normal, visiting his girlfriend every morning and attending his camera club on the Wednesday night. He burned Mrs Corcoran's body on the Thursday night and buried it in woodlands before going to feed her dogs. He became emotional as, he said, he couldn't bear to think of them suffering. It was the sight of their faeces in her well-kept home that alerted a man painting outside that all was not well.
Hayes went to a 25th wedding anniversary on the Friday night and the next day went on a skiing trip to Austria. He had withdrawn the maximum amount of cash from the widow's account on each of the previous five days.
His victim was reported missing while he was gone and her irregular bank transactions led gardai to view CCTV of a man withdrawing her cash. Hayes eventually admitted the killing but claimed he didn't intend it.
After the verdict was read out, Detective Garda Jim Fitzgerald outlined the killer's eight previous convictions, which included burglary of an 84-year-old's home, assault with intent to rob, and theft. However he was never jailed before killing Mrs Corcoran.
He explained that, on one occasion, Hayes went to a woman's house on the pretence of needing water for his car. He produced a knife but a neighbour heard her scream and disturbed him.
Mr Justice Paul Carney remanded the murderer in custody for sentencing at Cork Courthouse on Wednesday, when he will receive a victim impact statement.