Tuesday 20 February 2018

'Celine died after row over rubbish'

Accused told lover of 'day from hell'

MURDER-accused Eamonn Lillis told his mistress his wife Celine Cawley died after a violent row erupted when he forgot to take out the rubbish.

Beauty therapist Jean Treacy (32) gave her account of the fateful events that led to Ms Cawley's death when she took to the witness stand at the Central Criminal Court yesterday.

Ms Treacy, who was whisked in and out of court through a back entrance where she could not be photographed, said it was Ms Cawley who introduced her to her husband, recommending that he go to her for massages.

She told the court that she began a sexual affair with the 52-year-old television advertising producer eight weeks before his wife was found murdered at their home.

Mr Lillis has denied murdering his 46-year-old wife at their home in Howth, Co Dublin, on December 15, 2008.

Ms Treacy said she thought she had loved Mr Lillis, but now realised it was an infatuation.

Mr Lillis and Ms Treacy broke off regular contact after Ms Cawley's death, but they met in February last year because Mr Lillis insisted on giving her an explanation about what had happened.

"He basically said that that morning Celine asked him to take out the rubbish and he'd forgotten," Ms Treacy said.

"She said he was a terrible husband and useless."

She added he told her they were "hurling abuse" at each other, saying "disgusting things" and that they had "lost it".

The row became physical and Mr Lillis claimed Ms Cawley fell on the patio and her head bounced "like a beach ball".

He claimed Ms Cawley bit his finger and would not let go until she began to slip in and out of consciousness.

Mr Lillis claimed they agreed to tell their daughter they had disturbed a burglar in order to explain away the scrapes and cuts they had given each other.

Ms Cawley then slipped out of consciousness again and he called the emergency services.

Ms Treacy told the court she had been Mr Lillis's masseuse for around two years before their relationship developed.

She admitted she had told her colleagues in Howth Haven salon that she fancied him.

Ms Treacy met him after Ms Cawley came to her for regular massages and she recommended her husband go to Ms Treacy for treatments.

She said Ms Cawley "didn't really like too much pain" so she would do a light deep-tissue massage on her.

Mr Lillis began to come to her every Friday and found they had a mutual love of dogs. Their first contact outside of the salon was after his massage one evening when she went to his car to look at pictures of his dogs on his iPod.

She admitted the "rapport between us was slightly different that day" and noticed he had "really nice hands for man's hands".

He came to her for a massage as normal the following week, but then asked her to massage the front of his shoulders.


He asked her what she was thinking and she then put his hand on her pulse, which was racing.

She said the atmosphere the following Friday was different and that their relationship became physical. This was in the eight weeks preceding Ms Cawley's death at Rowan Hill, Windgate Road, Howth, on December 15.

Mr Lillis got her a second phone and they kept in almost daily contact.

She said that, as an onlooker, she would not have known that their marriage was "not 100pc".

"They looked very good together," she added.

But Mr Lillis told her he was unhappy and that he had told his wife the same. He said his wife told him to write a list of what he was unhappy about so they could work on it.

Ms Treacy admitted she developed feelings for the married father of one and said that, as far as she knew, Ms Cawley had no idea about their relationship.

"At the time, I thought I was (in love) but now I realise it was more infatuation than anything else," she told the court.

She said she sent a number of texts to Mr Lillis on the day of his wife's murder but didn't hear anything back, which was highly unusual.

She then got a phone call at 6.40pm from her boss to tell her about the murder.

She texted Mr Lillis again and he replied that it had been a "horrible day, a day from hell".

At that point, Ms Treacy was "100pc sure" there had been a burglary and she told him he should concentrate on his family. She told him they should cut contact for the time being and he replied on Tuesday, December 16: "You're probably right."

That was their last contact for some time but he called her when he was released after his arrest.

"We didn't have any proper contact but he called to my house the next day (after his arrest). He didn't knock, he just did a U-turn in my drive."

She agreed with Brendan Grehan, for the defence, that her state of mind was "very different now".

Mr Grehan referred to "plans" she had been making and asked was she "jittery" over them.

He asked her about her feelings for Mr Lillis. "We got on very well, but neither of us had any idea anything would happen. I looked forward to him coming in (to the salon)," she said. "I was attracted to him, yes."

She said she had been in his home a number of times and they met up every day or every other day in various venues.

She agreed with Mr Grehan that they were both "somewhat shocked" that they fell for each other, fell in love, and at the intensity of their feelings.

He pointed out that in her statement to the gardai she had said he was "refined, gentle, a bit of a dreamer, and wouldn't hurt a fly".

He asked her to recall an incident when she was in the 4x4 with him and Ms Cawley rang him to come home with the vehicle.

"The tone was particularly bad from Celine's side," said Ms Treacy. "She was wondering where he was . . . because she wanted to bring (their daughter) horse-riding.

"She told him to get home now. It wasn't what she said, it was the way she said it."

She said Mr Lillis responded "normally" to her demand.


In February, Ms Treacy called her former lover when she was drunk to arrange to meet and they met a total of three times. She believes it was at the second meeting that he explained how the row broke out.

"I'd not wanted to ask him straight out (about the row)," she said. "I couldn't understand how I had made such a bad judgment call."

She said she wanted to know what she had missed and said she also needed closure on their relationship.

Mr Grehan put it to her that Mr Lillis had said Ms Cawley fell and hit her head on a brick on the ground. "All I remember is she slipped and bounced back up straight away," she said.

"Do you remember him telling you that Celine took a swing at him with the brick?" asked Mr Grehan.

"I know they both had cuts," she replied. "But I don't remember him saying she whacked him with a brick."

The court also heard Mr Lillis did not later admit that the burglar story was a fabrication because his solicitor "told him not to say anything".

Earlier, the court had heard Ms Treacy was due to get married six months after Ms Cawley's death.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News