Wife-killer Eamonn Lillis sent to open prison in first step towards release
Wife-killer Eamonn Lillis is being transferred to an open prison to serve the rest of his sentence for manslaughter.
The move will take place over the weekend, with Lillis being shifted from Wheatfield jail in west Dublin to the open prison at Shelton Abbey in Arklow, Co Wicklow.
The transfer is seen as the first step in preparing the 56-year-old for his expected release in April next year.
A pre-release programme will be prepared for Lillis as he adjusts to a new life of minimum security at Shelton Abbey where there are no prison bars and he could walk out the front gate, if he wished.
The programme is likely to begin with temporary half-day releases and these will eventually be stepped up into unsupervised weekend leave from the open centre.
Lillis was sentenced to a jail term of six years and 11 months in 2010 for the manslaughter of his wife, Celine Cawley (46), at their home in Windgate Road, Howth in north Dublin in December 2008.
The father of one had made previous requests to be transferred to an open prison but these had been rejected. However, the authorities decided this week to sanction the move.
If he continues to qualify for the maximum one-quarter remission for good behaviour in jail, he is entitled to be set free in 11 months.
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 their back garden.
However, it was established that he had used a brick to kill Celine on the rear patio after they had become involved in a struggle.
Evidence at his trial from the deputy state pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis, indicated that Celine died after sustaining three blows to the head. She received two of the blows from the brick as she lay unconscious and face down on the ground.
Lillis was charged with murder but a jury found him guilty of manslaughter.
Imposing the sentence, Mr Justice Barry White asked the TV advertising producer to stand up and told him it was clear from the jury's verdict that they had rejected his contention that he had no legal responsibility.
"Having injured your wife, at least you had the decency to phone emergency services and with their help you tried to resuscitate her," he said.
"As far as I can see, that is the only decent act you committed," the judge said.
"Before you made that call, you took time to change your clothing and hide it in the attic, and concocted this story," the judge added.
The judge noted that Lillis had continued with this lie, even after being given a number of opportunities by gardai to tell the truth.