Widow tied up and tortured by murder accused, court told
A 50-year-old man tied up a 60-year-old widow with a dog lead and tortured her, leaving her to die while he cleaned out her bank account, a court heard yesterday.
Oliver Hayes, of Clancool Terrace, Bandon, Co Cork, has gone on trial at the Central Criminal Court charged with murdering Anne Corcoran, from Maulnaskimlehane, Kilbrittain, near Bandon.
He has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to her manslaughter on a date between January 19 and 21 2009, after falsely imprisoning her. He admits stealing €3,000 from her bank account over five days.
Prosecuting counsel John O'Kelly told the court that Mrs Corcoran's husband died in 2007 and she lived alone on her farm, which was mostly let out. She was active, had friends and two dogs, and was enjoying life.
"Sometime between January 19 and 21, she was murdered," he said. "She didn't know, but Oliver Hayes was watching her house with the intention of robbing her. He decided she'd probably have money, hopefully in the house. He brought a couple of feet of yellow rope."
Mr O'Kelly said that as Mrs Corcoran opened her front door to enter, Hayes was "ready for her", grabbed her from behind and pushed her inside. She was small but had courage, he said, and tried to fight him off.
Hayes demanded money and was told it was in the bank. He asked her for her bank cards, but she resisted, he said.
"He brought her to her car, put her in the boot and drove her around with the intention that this would break her down," he added. "But she was courageous and managed to get into the back seat of the car."
She would not reveal her pin number so he tied her legs with a dog lead and continued to drive around. After about an hour in the car, he brought her to his house and dragged her upstairs to a bedroom.
"He starts on her again to give him the numbers because he wants to clean out her account," said Mr O'Kelly. She gave him her pin numbers but he then began beating her with a stick.
Mr O'Kelly alleged that Mrs Corcoran was still conscious, so the accused picked up a table top and beat the back of her head until she was unconscious and bleeding, he said.
"He stuffs a shirt into her mouth, a heavy gag, ties her up and leaves her alone and unconscious," continued Mr O'Kelly.
"He returns to her house, ransacks her house, finds the bank cards and, armed with these, he heads into Bandon." He said Hayes had no success at the Bank of Ireland ATM, but withdrew the maximum amount of €600 from the AIB machine. "He returns to his house and apparently Anne Corcoran is still alive but just lying on the floor unconscious," said Mr O'Kelly.
Hayes slept downstairs that night and his victim was dead the next day.
"Does he exhibit shock or remorse?" asked Mr O'Kelly. "No. That night he's back at ATMs in Bandon and withdraws another €600 (from Mrs Corcoran's account)."
Hayes continued to make the maximum withdrawals from the widow's account over the next few days while she lay dead in his house, he said.
"Five days after the murder, he goes off with his girlfriend and her son on a skiing holiday to Austria and spends five or six days there," explained the barrister. "He also pays off a number of bills with the money."
He said Hayes wrapped Mrs Corcoran's body in bin bags and brought it to a wood near Ballinaspittle, where he used petrol to set it on fire.
The court heard that the last known contact with Mrs Corcoran was a phone call she made on January 19. People became suspicious over the following week and contacted gardai.
Investigators checked the widow's bank accounts and discovered the transactions Hayes made and viewed CCTV footage.
The barrister said the defendant's house was searched and traces of Mrs Corcoran's blood were found in a bedroom and on a stick. Hayes was arrested.
After initial denials, Hayes admitted he wanted her unconscious and that when he couldn't knock her out with the stick, he went for the table top and "battered her over the head with it", he said.
The autopsy found she died of head wounds and due to a gag impeding her breathing.
The trial continues.