Saturday 23 September 2017

I had no hand, act or part in Meg's murder, says O'Brien

Husband testifies he had no motive to kill

John O'Brien leaves court yesterday where he claimed he was about to sign over the family home to his wife after an assault
John O'Brien leaves court yesterday where he claimed he was about to sign over the family home to his wife after an assault

The husband of Meg Walsh said yesterday he frequently put things into the boot of her car, where his DNA had been found -- but insisted he had "no hand, act or part" in his wife's murder.

John O'Brien (41), took to the stand in Central Criminal Court in Dublin and strongly rejected suggestions that he had a motive to kill his wife -- insisting he had no idea he would end up facing a murder investigation.

O'Brien, with an address in Ballinakill Downs, Co Waterford, is charged with murdering 35-year-old Meg Walsh on a date between October 1, 2006 and October 15, 2006, somewhere within the state.

The mother-of-one's body was recovered from the River Suir on October 15, 2006. She had died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Speaking in his own defence, Mr O'Brien told defence counsel he had taken "no hand, act or part" in his wife's murder.

He also told prosecuting counsel he hadn't told gardai any lies. "I didn't think it was going to come to this. I didn't know it was going to be a murder investigation," he said.

Mr O'Brien denied that this was because he had not expected the body to be found. He said he had been "about 45 or 50 minutes out" in his account of Sunday October 1, when he said he last saw his wife.

Returned

He said he had returned home at around 5pm, although it could have been closer to 6pm, and had heard Ms Walsh leave the house and drive off at around 8.30pm.

He said that a colleague, Mr Kevin Barry, who had given evidence earlier in the trial was "totally wrong".

Mr Barry had told the jury that on October 2 or 3, Mr O'Brien had told him he had returned home from a walk at 5pm that evening and Meg's car was already gone.

Mr O'Brien said he did not think Mr Barry was lying. "That's what he thinks I told him," he said.

He said he had told gardai searching for Meg's passport where he thought she kept it.

"Where I told them I thought it was, that's where they found it," he said. However, he agreed he had not found it himself. He said he had searched the bedside locker where it was found, but must have concentrated more on two other drawers.

Mr O'Brien said he used Meg's silver Mitsubishi Carisma on several occasions and had frequently put things in the boot of the car where his DNA had been found. He said he had not been driving the Carisma on Monday October 2, the night the car was abandoned in the Uluru car park in Waterford city centre.

He said he had been parked in the nearby Tesco carpark when he was watching the house of Owen Walsh, the man Meg had kissed the previous night and who he thought she had gone to be with. He said he had left at around 9pm.

He did not answer when he was told that no dark coloured Mazda car had been seen leaving the Tesco carpark at this time although one did leave at 10.08pm, five minutes after the Carisma was left in the Uluru carpark.

Mr O'Brien rejected the suggestion that he had a motive to kill his wife. He said that he had been in the process of signing over the deeds of the house to her after he had assaulted her some days earlier, "just to prove it would never happen again."

Prosecuting counsel Denis Buckley told him that not only did he have a motive but he also had the opportunity.

"You did in fact murder your wife, Meg Walsh. You had an opportunity to kill her and a motive to kill her and you did it. You killed her."

Mr O'Brien replied: "No I didn't."

The jury also heard from Ms Samantha Raincock, who said the cells that picked up Mr O'Brien's call when he called his message service at 9.38pm, could have picked up his signal from the Waterford Castle turning where he said he had been at the time.

She agreed with prosecuting counsel that the same masts also covered the Uluru car park where the prosecution claim Mr O'Brien was at the time.

The trial will continue today before Mr Justice Barry White and a jury, when the prosecution and defence will make their closing speeches.

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