THE Rachel O'Reilly murder trial last week heard evidence of a technological paper trail the prosecution says proves Joe O'Reilly's guilt. Week three of the trial began on Monday after the jury returned from four days' absence while the trial went into legal argument. The trial has now lasted 15 days and each day brings with it more spectators, cramming the already sardine-like conditions in Court no 2 even further. Queues of people outside the door trying to catch a glimpse of the day's proceedings are testimony to the interest the brutal murder of Rachel O'Reilly has generated among the general public.
On Monday, the jury heard that when gardai spoke to Mr O'Reilly at his mother's home on the evening of the killing, he admitted there had been marital difficulties but initially denied having an affair. Det Sgt Patrick Marry said Joe O'Reilly admitted a short time later that he did in fact have an affair with a woman called Nikki Pelley, from Rathfarnham. Mr O'Reilly told him "the affair was over and he didn't want his family to know".
Mr O'Reilly also told gardai about his movements on the day of his wife's murder. He said he got up at around 5.20am and went to the gym where he met his co-worker Mr Derek Quearney. He arrived in work at Viacom, an outdoor advertising company in Bluebell Industrial estate at 7.30am. Other workers, including Mr Quearney, were also there as he went into his office, read e-mails, and had coffee and cereal. At 8.25am he left to inspect posters in the Broadstone bus garage in Phibsboro and Mr Quearney left to join him a short time later. Mr O'Reilly said the only person he spoke to while there was Mr Quearney and that the two men left to go back to work in separate cars at around 11.30am. When asked whether he was "good friends" with Mr Quearney, Mr O'Reilly said he was just a work colleague.
After this, the remainder of the week was dominated by technological evidence. Mobile phone analysis was the first such evidence to stun the courtroom as Oliver Farrell, an electronics engineer contracted by O2, said that examination of Mr O'Reilly's mobile phone records placed the phone near the O'Reilly household on the morning of the murder. Consequently, he said his own analysis painted "a different picture" compared to the account Mr O'Reilly gave to gardai. He said a mobile phone mast in Murphy's Quarry, down the road from the O'Reilly home in The Naul, north Co Dublin, picked up a signal from Mr O'Reilly's phone twice - at 09.25.07 and 09.52.28. He said it would not be possible for a mast in Murphy's Quarry to pick up a phone signal from the Broadstone Bus Garage in the inner city, the place where Mr O'Reilly said he was.
Det Gda Joanne O'Sullivan used a spreadsheet to list all calls and texts on Mr O'Reilly's phone on the day of the murder. Among the many calls that day was a total of 18 communications between Mr O'Reilly and his lover, Nikki Pelley. Three calls between their phones in the hours before the murder lasted a total of 58 minutes and 25 seconds. Under cross-examination by Mr Patrick Gageby SC, Det Gda O'Sullivan admitted her spreadsheet was dependent on the accuracy of other people's information.
On Wednesday morning, the court heard about garda interviews following Mr O'Reilly's arrest on November 17, 2004, and March 14, 2006. In these interviews, Mr O'Reilly denied the killing but admitted having his mobile with him all day on the day of the murder.
During the afternoon, the court heard a disturbing exchange of e-mails between Mr O'Reilly and his sister Ann four months before Rachel O'Reilly's murder. The e-mails discuss Mr O'Reilly's feelings following a trip with Rachel to a social worker the day before. The trip was brought about by an anonymous caller who complained to social services about the way Rachel treated the children. One of Mr O'Reilly's e-mails reveals that this caller was his mother.
As the e-mails were read by prosecuting counsel Mr Dominic McGinn BL, the gasps of onlookers were heard throughout the room. The Callaly family looked shaken and Rose and Ann Callaly were eventually overcome by waves of tears as details of the "repulsion" Joe O'Reilly felt towards his wife were revealed.
He tells his sister the marriage is over: "Me + Rachel + Marriage = over!!!" and voices his fear of losing custody of the children. Referring to himself as "Mr Weekend Custody", he says: "Being a father in this country, no matter how good, will land you with weekend visitations and not much else. Yesterday was my 1st personal indication of how much I will lose if I don't try different angles. After all, I'm only the secondary care giver . . . "
In an ironic tone, he calls his late wife "The World's Greatest Mum", and uses highly abusive language, such as, "c**t". He then sneers at her attempts to organise a "romantic dinner" for the two of them. Mr O'Reilly also tells his sister: "By all means, drag her fat ass outside and kick it into the middle of next week, but not in front of the boys, and don't leave any marks that can and will be used against you in a court of law . . . "
On Wednesday, Nikki Pelley, the woman with whom Mr O'Reilly had an affair, took to the witness box looking visibly distressed.
At the request of the prosecution, she spoke candidly about the kinds of personal matters normally only shared between close friends. She said she first met Joe O'Reilly while working in Viacom but that when she met him again at a business function, a relationship began to develop between them. Asked what kind, she said: "a sexual one". She said they would see each other on Tuesdays and Saturdays and that JoeO'Reilly would tell his late wife he was playing softball and staying overnight in the office. She said they had discussed a future together and that she had met the O'Reilly children on a few occasions, when they'd go to the zoo or else her house in Rathfarnham. Mr O'Reilly told her he "would have preferred full custody but would have settled for joint custody". Ms Pelley also revealed Mr O'Reilly spent the night with her after his Late Late Show appearance on October 22.
She said that the night before the killing, she spoke to Joe O'Reilly by phone but that he did not discuss with her anything about Mrs O'Reilly. She said it was just a general "good night" conversation and that she couldn't remember the contents of the call the following morning.
She admitted that during the course of making witness statements to gardai on October 5 and 27, 2004, she initially played down the affair. She said Mr O'Reilly had asked her to do this but that he didn't tell her why. Later asked to explain the reason she thought Mr O'Reilly told her to say this, she replied: "because if it was a relationship it would be seen to give him a motive to kill Rachel".
Texts found on Ms Pelley's phone were also read out. In them, Mr O'Reilly referred to her as his "beautiful bride-to-be" and referred to one of his children with Rachel O'Reilly as his and Ms Pelley's child. It reads: "Just texting you . . . our boy has had his first school day. Had fun but will have homework tomorrow. Love you."
The day's evidence ended with voice messages found on Rachel O'Reilly's phone from the day she was murdered. Among the calls were one from her worried mother asking her to get in touch, another from the Montessori school teacher who was still minding the son she failed to pick up, and multiple calls from Joe O'Reilly wondering where she was. One reads: "Rach, it's me again. I'm just on the M50. I've spoken to your mother. She's going to pop on out. Please ring. I've been crying. You have me worried. I don't know, talk to me please." Another voice-message from Mr O'Reilly, left a month after the murder, says: "Hi Rach, it's Joe. I'm really sorry for the very very early phone call. This time a month ago you were probably doing 'Ms Pelley also revealed Mr O'Reilly spent the night with her after his 'Late Late Show' appearance on October 22'
what I'm doing now, getting the kids ready for school. But now you're so cold but the sun is out. It was just a normal day but you had less than two hours to live."
On Friday, only 25 minutes of evidence was heard, including that of a garda who admitted the reason he might not have seen a car resembling that of Mr O'Reilly's travel in the direction of the Broadstone Garage on CCTV footage was because his view could have been obscured.
Before sending the jury home, Mr Justice Barry White reminded them a second time to ignore media reports of the case.
Referring specifically to Friday's media reports of the trial, he said he had not read the papers but that he did hear a review of them on the radio. "It certainly seemed to me that some newspapers were carrying what could be called 'lurid' headlines. At the end of the day, you will decide this case on what you hear in court and nothing else."
He also said "it was safe to say" the prosecution were nearing the end of their evidence.
Out of an expected total of 179 witnesses, 141 have now been called. The trial continues tomorrow.