Wednesday 13 November 2019

I thought my dad was going to shoot me, says son of man convicted of body-in-the-canal murder

Paul Wells Jnr has pleaded not guilty
Paul Wells Jnr has pleaded not guilty

Alison O’Riordan

A man accused of impeding the Kenneth O'Brien murder investigation told gardaí that he thought his father - who dismembered the victim's body and dumped it in the Grand Canal - was going to shoot him in the hours after the deceased went missing.

The prosecution has alleged that the accused man, who endured a "life of hardship" under his father, dumped parts of a chainsaw in different locations, knowing at the time that his father had killed someone.

Detective Sergeant Gerard Moore was giving evidence today in the Central Criminal Court trial of Paul Wells Junior (33), who is charged with impeding the apprehension or prosecution of his father Paul Wells Senior (51) nearly four years ago.

Mr Wells Junior - with an address at Beatty Park, Celbridge, Co Kildare - has pleaded not guilty to disposing of a chainsaw motor at a time unknown between January 19 and 20, 2016 in Co Kildare and not guilty to disposing of a chainsaw blade and chain on January 20, 2016 in the same location.

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Victim: Kenneth O’Brien’s body was chopped up and dumped in a canal
Victim: Kenneth O’Brien’s body was chopped up and dumped in a canal

READ MORE: 'Living nightmare' - Family of murder victim Kenneth O'Brien react to 'barbaric' killing following verdict

Paul Wells Senior was jailed for life last year having been found guilty of murdering Kenneth O'Brien at his home in Finglas on January 15 or 16, 2016. Wells Snr admitted that, after shooting the 33-year-old father in his back garden, he had dismembered his body and dumped it in a suitcase in the Grand Canal.

Giving evidence today, Detective Sergeant Gerard Moore outlined to prosecuting counsel Michael Bowman SC the relevance of certain locations in the case. The witness said Mr O'Brien's torso was recovered from a suitcase at the Grand Canal in Ardclogh in Co. Kildare on January 16 and a garda investigation commenced.

The witness agreed with counsel that the body or motor of the chainsaw was discovered from Pike Bridge on the Royal Canal in Maynooth on January 22.

On January 24 and 25, the remaining parts of Mr O'Brien's body was discovered in bags at the Grand Canal, they had been placed there by Wells Snr, said Det Sgt Moore. The witness said a blade and chain from the chainsaw used in the dismemberment of Mr O'Brien was also recovered by members of The Garda Sub-Aqua Unit at the Curragh.

READ MORE: Kenneth O'Brien murder trial: Killer Paul Wells' astonishing tale of secrets, lies, betrayal and conspiracy

Gardai discovered the dismembered remains of Kenneth O’Brien in a search of the Grand Canal
Gardai discovered the dismembered remains of Kenneth O’Brien in a search of the Grand Canal

Det Sgt Moore told defence counsel Damien Colgan SC that Mr Wells Jnr had given a voluntary statement to gardaí on February 5. As a result of what the accused man said, gardai raided his father's house the following day.

Det Sgt Moore agreed that Wells Snr was well known to gardaÍ as a member of the IRA and had a conviction for firearms and explosives.

Following this, Mr Colgan put sections of his client's garda statement to the witness.

The court heard that Mr Wells Jnr told gardaí that his brother called him on the evening of January 16, asking him to meet his father in a Tesco carpark. The accused man drove to meet Wells Snr at the supermarket around 7pm and they went for a quick drive in the direction of Straffan village.

READ MORE: 'There is a cold place in my heart after the barbaric treatment of our wonderful son'

Mr Wells Jnr told gardaí that his father seemed really on edge and kept looking over his shoulder as he drove into Sallins.

The accused said: "I started worrying about our path and he knew the dark roads. He was sweating all the time, I thought I was going to be shot."

Wells Snr told his son that he "needed a p**s" and pulled up at the canal on the Sallins Road. The accused man said his father went to the boot of his car and he could hear him "shuffling something about". "Two seconds later I heard two splashes," said Mr Wells Jnr, adding that his father then dropped him back to his car at Tesco.

Det Sgt Moore agreed with Mr Colgan that parts of the chainsaw had been recovered at a later date from shallow water at the Curragh under the direction of Mr Wells Jnr. The witness further agreed that the accused could have thrown the parts into the middle of the lake but had not.

In re-examination, Det Sgt Moore agreed with the prosecution that Wells Snr had become a person of interest "well in advance" of Mr Wells Jnr attending at the Garda station on February 5.

The trial resumes tomorrow before Ms Justice Carmel Stewart and a jury of six men and six women.

READ MORE: Andrew Phelan: 'Chainsaw butcher had dark past only hinted at in trial'

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