Tuesday 23 April 2019

'It wasn't mine' - Murder accused Paul Wells didn't know why €52k was transferred into his account, trial hears

Kenneth O’Brien had been ‘living like a king in Australia’, according to Paul Wells who is accused of murder.
Kenneth O’Brien had been ‘living like a king in Australia’, according to Paul Wells who is accused of murder.
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

MURDER accused Paul Wells denied having anything to do with the death of Kenneth O’Brien in a series of garda interviews the day after he was arrested, a jury has heard.

Mr Wells told detectives he did not know what the €52,000 Mr O’Brien had transferred into his account was for, but repeatedly said “it wasn’t mine.”

He told gardai he was “not a middle man, I was a friend” and that he was not involved in “any of the activities of Kenneth O’Brien."

The memos of the accused's interviews were being read out at his trial at the Central Criminal Court today.

Mr Wells (50), of Barnamore Park, Finglas, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr O’Brien (33) at that address between January 15 and 16, 2016.

He has admitted that he shot him dead but said it happened when they struggled during a row after Mr O’Brien turned up at his home with a gun.

The accused claimed Mr O’Brien had wanted to have his own partner Eimear Dunne murdered and Mr Wells refused to kill her.

He said after he shot Mr O’Brien, he “panicked” and dismembered the remains, which were later found in a suitcase and shopping bags in the canal in Co Kildare.

The first two interviews took place on the day of his arrest, February 6, 2016. Those memos were read to the jury yesterday.

The court heard today that in the the third interview, on February 7, 2016, gardai asked Mr Wells about his movements during the week before Mr O’Brien went missing.

He told them after he left Mr O’Brien’s house on Monday, January 11, 2016 he got his social welfare out at a post office, went home and collected his son Andrew from school. He watched TV later and said he was an “insomniac.”

Of Tuesday January 12, he said “I can’t remember, more of the same.” He got up and took his son to school, collected him and possibly saw a friend.

Wednesday, he said, “I can’t remember” and agreed with gardai he was a “creature of habit.”

He would walk his dog most days before bed.

On Thursday, January 14, he said he “probably dropped Andrew to school” and “pottered around the house.”

He may have seen someone, he said, but his routine was “more or less the same.”

On Friday, January 15, she said he probably rose at 8.30am and drove his wife Audrey and their son Andrew to Heuston Station at around 11.45am as they were going to Cork.

He said he headed into town and parked near the Jervis Centre, walked around “window shopping” and then went to Clearwater shopping centre in Finglas where he got chops and burgers in the butcher’s before going home.

His son Gary came home and changed clothes before going to his girlfriend’s house, the accused continued in the interview.

Mr Wells said he cooked the chops he got for his dinner, “had a shower and vegged out for the night,” watching TV and going to bed late.

He said nobody called to him that night. Mr Wells told gardai the phone he gave them was his only phone.

He said his wife rang him the next day, Saturday January 16, and told him Ms Dunne was looking for him. He told gardai Ms Dunne was “hysterical” when he called her. He met her the following day and she “wanted to know more about what Kenneth was doing,” he said.

It “wasn’t my thing to betray people,” but she was in tears and he showed her texts on his phone, he had said.

Ms Dunne was “gutted” and “angry at (Mr O'Brien) for being at it again.”

She told Mr Wells a gun had been found in the safe at her house and he said he told her to “get rid of it, throw it away,” but he did not know the conclusion of that.

After his last text contact with Ms Dunne, he thought she was upset with him because “sometimes when you are the bearer of bad news that equates you with the incident," he continued.

Mr Wells told gardai he could not say what was in Mr O’Brien’s head, and “I’m not my brother’s keeper.”

“He was heading off to have a good time, he was rewarding himself,” the accused said of Mr O’Brien.

Asked about Mr O’Brien’s son, Mr Wells said “if he had the liaisons, he wasn’t thinking of Charlie.”

The accused said Mr O’Brien had not called over to him in over a year and was not a frequent visitor to his house.

Asked if he had learned about Mr O’Brien’s death from a news report, he said; “yeah, confirmed, they had to do a DNA sample.”

Speaking about his arrest on suspicion of Mr O’Brien’s murder, Mr Wells said; “I am the one who knew most of his secrets.”

The garda interviewer said they could not find anyone “as close to him as you.”

“That is why I am a target,” he replied.

It was put to him that on the Sunday when he showed Ms Dunne the pictures (of Mr O’Brien and the other woman), he “put the knife in his back” because he knew he was dead.

“I deny it,” Mr Wells replied.

“You weren’t betraying him at that stage because you knew he was dead,” the interviewer said.

“That is what you think,” the accused replied.

In the fourth interview, also on February 7, gardai asked the accused about his finances. Mr Wells told them Mr O’Brien had not owed him any money.

He said he gave his wife Audrey his €320 weekly jobseekers’ allowance. The balance would be “a couple of hundred” and would go up depending on what he put into it, he said.

Gardai showed him details of his account and asked him if he bought anything in January that cost €14,500. He said he did not, and did not know what happened to it, saying “it’s not my money.”

He said the money had nothing to do with the disappearance or murder of Mr O’Brien. When asked if if was Mr O’Brien’s money, he said: “I wasn’t involved in any of those activities.”

Asked what activities, he replied; “I don’t know.”

He was asked how thousands of euros of deposits came to go into his account in 2014 and 2015.

“I wasn’t involved in any of the activities of Kenneth O’Brien,” he said.

“Are you saying the deposits had anything to do with Kenneth O’Brien?” he was asked.

“It wasn’t my money,” he replied.

Asked if it was right that €52,000 was transferred into his account by Mr O’Brien, he replied: “I couldn’t say,” but he “certainly didn’t” have it.

He said he could not say what it was for, but it “wasn’t mine, it’s nothing to do with me.”

It was put to him that he got half of the money Mr O’Brien transferred from Australia, while Ms Dunne got a quarter.

“Again, I’ll say it wasn’t mine,” Mr Wells replied.

Asked if it was connected to drugs, he replied “no.” Asked if it was money laundering, he said “I couldn’t say.”

“I wasn’t a middle man,” he said. “I was a friend, that is all."

Asked if Mr O’Brien putting the money into his account had put Mr Wells in danger, he replied: “he put me in a world of sh**, that is for sure.”

Gardai asked him about the “random” amounts, in thousands of euros, he wirthdrew from his account, he said “I don’t know… I don’t have it.”

He said his own children were “not involved.”

It was “news to me” that €5,000 came from Mr O’Brien’s Irish PTSB account, he said.

Gardai asked if he believed the €52,000 lodged into his account led to Mr O’Brien’s murder.

“No,” he replied.

He was asked if it had anything that he knew to do with firearms or explosives.

“No,” the accused said.

Gardai asked him when he last fired a gun.

Mr Wells told gardai he went on a stag weekend for his son Paul Jnr to Riga in August 2015. Part of the package was they went to a firing range.

“I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barrel or a tank,” he told gardai.

He said he had also shot a legally held gun on private land in south Armagh. He did not shoot on this side of the border, he said.

He was asked if he had an interest in guns.

“I would, yeah,” Mr Wells replied.

Of the manner in which Mr O’Brien died, he said he was only aware of what he had read. He was asked what his “take on it” was.

“I’m sick,” he said. “What way could I feel? He was my friend.”

The accused said he thought Mr O’Brien was “already rich”.

“Somebody has an awful lot of money belonging to him but it’s not me,” he said.

Gardai asked him where he thought Mr O’Brien was murdered.

“I don’t know,” he replied.

He was asked if he had anything to do with Mr O’Brien’s murder.

“No,” he said. “I kept trying to keep him out of trouble.”

The trial continues, with evidence of further interviews being heard today.

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