Tuesday 16 October 2018

Murder accused admits shooting man and dismembering his body after row

Garda underwater unit members search the canal near Sallins in 2016 for the body of Kenneth O’Brien. Picture: Collins
Garda underwater unit members search the canal near Sallins in 2016 for the body of Kenneth O’Brien. Picture: Collins
Kenneth O'Brien

Andrew Phelan

A Dublin man admitted he shot a father of one in the head, then dismembered the body, which was later found in a suitcase and shopping bags in the Grand Canal.

A jury heard Paul Wells (50) told gardaí he killed Kenneth O'Brien, but said it happened when the two men struggled after Mr O'Brien produced a gun during a dispute.

Mr Wells maintained Mr O'Brien (33) had wanted his own partner murdered and had asked the accused to kill her, but Mr Wells refused.

The Central Criminal Court heard a couple walking by the canal in Co Kildare found a suitcase in the canal containing Mr O'Brien's torso, with the head and limbs having been "neatly cut" off in a manner consistent with the use of a "high-powered mechanical saw".

Kenneth O'Brien
Kenneth O'Brien

His limbs and skull were later found in bags weighed down with bricks.

The accused, of Barnamore Park, Finglas, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr O'Brien at that address between January 15 and 16, 2016.

Sean Gillane SC told the jury in his opening speech that Mr O'Brien had worked in Australia and travelled "back and forth" to Ireland before returning at Christmas 2015.

His partner Eimear Dunne last saw him at their Clondalkin home when she left in the early hours of January 15, 2016.

The following morning, she received a text from a number she did not recognise, purporting to be Mr O'Brien, saying: "Look, I've had enough, I've met someone else, I'm leaving you and I'm heading for the ferry."

Ms Dunne was "very suspicious" that the text had not come from her partner and rang around people who knew him, including Mr Wells.

Mr Wells informed Ms Dunne that Mr O'Brien was having an affair and showed her text messages and photos "of a particular nature" concerning a woman in Australia.

Mr O'Brien was reported missing on January 16.

That day, Brian O'Dwyer and Mary Costigan were walking at Ardclough, Co Kildare, when they saw a suitcase floating in the canal that did not appear to be old.

They opened it, saw plastic wrapped around "flesh and a red-like substance" and called gardaí.

Gardaí discovered a human torso within plastic, secured by red straps.

Mr O'Brien was identified.

Chainsaw parts were later found at two other locations in Co Kildare.

On January 24, people fishing in the Sallins area found a bag containing a human lower leg. Gardaí found three shopping bags containing Mr O'Brien's other limbs and skull. One arm had a tattoo with the name "Ken".

The hands were never recovered.

The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the back of the head.

Gardaí established Mr O'Brien had sent more than €40,000 into an account of Mr Wells, Mr Gillane continued.

The accused told gardaí Mr O'Brien had "wished Eimear Dunne to be murdered and that he wished that murder to be carried out by Mr Wells," which the accused did not want to do.

He said on January 15, Mr O'Brien came to Mr Wells's home, produced a gun and there was a dispute in the back yard. The gun fell to the ground and Mr O'Brien reached for the gun, but Mr Wells got it and fired it "and that is how the death of Mr O'Brien came about".

He told gardaí he panicked and dismembered the body.

The trial continues before a jury and Mr Justice Paul McDermott.

Irish Independent

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