Saturday 20 January 2018

If I die, tell my parents I love them, student said in text to pals

Eoin Ryan
Eoin Ryan

Natasha Reid

A student whose body was found in a barrel two years ago reportedly texted his friend earlier that morning, asking her to tell his parents he loved them if he died.

Jennifer Culligan was giving evidence to the Central Criminal Court yesterday in the trial of a farmer charged with murdering the 21-year-old on his land.

Joe Heffernan (33), of Cappagh Beg, Barefield, Ennis, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Eoin Ryan at that address on June 7, 2011.

The body of the law student from Newhall, Co Clare, was found that morning, after the accused rang the gardai to say he had killed the devil.

Ms Culligan testified that she was "very good friends" with Mr Ryan, having gone to secondary school with him.

She said that Mr Ryan's family knew he was gay, there were no issues and he and his family were happy.

She said they and their friend, Sarah Cunningham, went out in Ennis on the evening of June 6, 2011, a bank holiday Monday.

They ended up in Cruise's pub, where a man with a beard spoke to them across the bar. "He said he was from over near Spancil Hill and had donkeys at home," she recalled.

She noticed that this man was having a conversation with Mr Ryan, who went out for cigarettes from time to time. Mr Ryan had been gone a few minutes at closing time, she said. The bar staff asked people to leave so they waited for their friend outside.

"When he didn't come out, I went into the male bathrooms for a look to see if he was in there," she recalled.

He wasn't there so they walked around the town looking for him. They returned to the first pub they had been in and asked the bouncer if he had seen him but he hadn't.

After looking for some time, they got a taxi home. Ms Culligan sent Mr Ryan a text message: "I'll kill you. Where did you go?" she asked. She said that around 3.40am, she received a text from Mr Ryan's phone.

"If I die, I died changing a tyre somewhere random. Tell my parents I love them if I die, but I might not. Great," read the message, with the word 'great' in capitals.

"I was very confused by the text message, because 'great' was a real sarcastic word we used to use," she said through tears.

She agreed with Patrick Gageby SC, defending, that in her message to him, she had written: "You better ring me in the morning to let me know you're alive."

She said she supposed that his message about dying could be a reply to that.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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