Lillis counts down hours until he can flee country
Killer refuses to leave prison a day early to hide from public glare
CONVICTED killer Eamonn Lillis spent another day behind bars as he appeared desperate to avoid stepping out into public for the first time after five years in jail.
In an unusual development yesterday, the wife-killer refused to leave Wheatfield Prison despite being granted temporary release a day early.
After waiting for more than eight hours for Lillis to sign a temporary release form, which covered him until his official release date today, the management of the Irish Prison Service (IPS) withdrew the offer and the father of one was returned to his cell for one more night, or at least part of it.
The move meant that Lillis could leave from one minute after midnight or wait to enjoy his final breakfast in the prison.
When he finally steps outside, Lillis is expected to fly out of the country to stay at a sister's home in southern England.
It is understood that the 57-year-old - who killed his wife Celine Cawley but walks free as a millionaire - has booked a plane ticket today to provide a swift exit.
Senior prison officials at Wheatfield jail in west Dublin had told Lillis on Thursday evening that he could be set free yesterday morning, if he wished, rather than wait for his official release date 24 hours later.
From shortly after breakfast-time yesterday, staff were ready for the departure of the notorious killer but when Lillis heard that media were already gathered outside the gates of the prison, he began to have second thoughts.
Instead, he whiled away some of the hours working in the prison library.
He believed that by leaving early he could slip into the shadows and avoid further publicity after serving five years and almost two months of his six years and 11 months sentence for killing his wife, Celine, at their home at Windgate Road, Howth, in north Dublin, in December 2008.
His aversion to the media resulted last year in the advertising producer, who worked for his wife's film company, withdrawing his request to spend the last year of his sentence, after remission for good behaviour behind bars, in an open prison, Shelton Abbey, outside Arklow.
During the garda investigation into the incident on December 15, 2008, Lillis told officers that his wife had been attacked by a burglar, who fled through the back garden.
But it was established that he had used a brick to kill Celine on the rear patio after they had become involved in a struggle.
Detectives who grilled him put it to Lillis that an affair he was having with masseuse Jean Treacy was the reason behind the fight with Celine that led to her death.
He denied any correlation between the affair and the fight.
Lillis was found guilty in February 2010 of his wife's manslaughter.
Rose Callaly, the mother of Rachel O'Reilly who was murdered by her husband Joe O'Reilly, yesterday said she felt deeply for Celine's family with the release of Lillis.
"My first thoughts are with her (Celine's) family because only in a situation like that somebody can understand the pain," Ms Callaly said, telling Newstalk radio the sentence was "far too lenient".
"They have a life sentence," she said of Lillis and Celine's daughter Georgia and her family. "They must be going through hell."