Saturday 20 July 2019

Juror in Paul Wells murder trial discharged

Kenneth O’Brien. Photo: Colin Keegan
Kenneth O’Brien. Photo: Colin Keegan
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

A juror in the Paul Wells murder trial has been discharged after it emerged that she knew someone who was mentioned during evidence.

The juror was excused today from any further involvement in the trial after she told the Central Criminal Court she had worked with a man named while a witness gave evidence last week.

The juror said it would not affect her ability to serve but Mr Justice Paul McDermott said it was appropriate to excuse her to preserve the integrity of the trial, which is now in its fourth day.

It will continue with 11 jurors - five women and six men.

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

Mr Wells admitted to gardai 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 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 Grand Canal in Co Kildare.

Today, Mr Justice McDermott told the jury a query had been raised by a member about a man who was mentioned as the deceased’s partner, Ms Dunne gave evidence last Friday.

The juror told the judge that earlier last week, she noticed someone she thought she knew in the court’s public gallery.

She was not sure she knew the person until she heard the name and “a light bulb went off.” She told the judge she “would have worked with him seven years ago.”

“I felt it better to say it than not,” she said.

Mr Justice McDermott asked if this would interfere with her ability to serve on the jury.

“Not in any way,” she said.

The jurors were sent out for some time and when they returned, the judge said it was of the “utmost importance that when you sit in judgment in a particular case, you are completely removed from the parties.”

He said in the circumstances he was going to discharge the juror and thanked her for bringing the matter to his attention.

“It is no reflection on you or your participation if you had stayed,” he said. “It is to preserve the integrity of the process and the independence of the jury.”

The trial will continue later this afternoon.

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