Wednesday 20 February 2019

Murder accused chopped his 'bud' to pieces with chainsaw

Grim discovery: Members of the Garda Sub-aqua Unit at the Grand Canal where body parts were found. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Grim discovery: Members of the Garda Sub-aqua Unit at the Grand Canal where body parts were found. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

Murder accused Paul Wells was crying when he knelt on the ground to chop his friend Kenneth O'Brien to pieces with a chainsaw, after he shot him in the back of the head.

He wept again as he haltingly described to gardaí the scene of "carnage" in his back yard as he dismembered the man he had once called "bud".

There were more tears from the accused as he sat in the dock at the Central Criminal Court, holding his head and sobbing as the video of his questioning by detectives was played back to the jury in his trial this week.

As the grisly details of that freezing winter's night were recounted, it emerged that Mr O'Brien (33), a father-of-one, had been cut up with his own chainsaw and his torso put in his own suitcase, which Mr Wells threw in the Grand Canal.

It was, in the accused's own words, "barbaric" and "the way I disposed of that man was deplorable". However, Mr Wells (50) is pleading not guilty to murdering his friend between January 15 and 16, 2016.

The jury heard while he eventually admitted killing Mr O'Brien, he maintained it happened when they struggled during a row after Mr O'Brien turned up at his home at Barnamore Park, Finglas, with a gun. The argument, he told gardaí, was over a plan to kill Mr O'Brien's partner, Eimear Dunne.

He maintained Mr O'Brien had wanted her murdered so he could bring his son Charlie to live with him in Australia, and thought Mr Wells, described in court as "an IRA man" was the "person for the job". He said Mr O'Brien was prepared to pay him "twenty grand".

The pair were to meet in the square beside the Jervis Shopping Centre on the morning of January 15, when Mr O'Brien would give Mr Wells the gun, he told detectives.

He said he parked nearby but had no intention of killing Ms Dunne and returned home.

After 5pm, he said, Mr Wells "bounced up" to his house and asked "why did you not turn up?"

"I then said to him that the whole thing was f**king crazy and unnecessary," Mr Wells told gardaí.

He said Mr O'Brien was to go back to his own house and send a text, "a smiley face, that was a signal that it was clear to go to the house and take a life".

"After I had shot her... I was to interfere with her clothing. To give the impression that she had been sexually abused. I f**king lost it. And I recall pushing him violently."

They grappled, he said, and the gun dropped to the ground.

"He tried to grab the gun off the floor. I thought if he got the gun he'd shoot me. I never seen him like that before, I never thought it was in him.

"I panicked and I got the gun first and I shot him in the back of the head. I put the gun to his head, I pulled the trigger. I just panicked. I swear I didn't want to kill him, he was my friend."

After, he said, he had an "overwhelming sense of trying to survive" and had to get the body out of the house before his wife arrived home.

The body was "f**king heavy" and "the only way I could take him out was to take him out in parts", he said.

He said he bit down on a tea towel and cut up the body in his backyard with a chainsaw Mr O'Brien had loaned him.

"I never thought I'd do that to a human being. Must have f**king made about six attempts to f**kng try and do it. I couldn't, I kept bottling it. I was practically expecting him to wake up. I couldn't believe what I'd done. I felt sick. That smell was all over.. of death."

He picked up the body parts, put the torso in a suitcase that also belonged to Mr O'Brien and threw it in the canal in Ardclough, Co Kildare, in the early hours of the morning.

Later that evening, he threw Mr O'Brien's head and limbs, "parcelled" in bags weighed down with fire bricks, into the canal at another location. The following day, he said, he threw the broken-up revolver out his car window into the Liffey at Strawberry Beds.

"I didn't stop, I kept rolling, one hand on the wheel, with the other hand I flung these (gun) parts," he said.

Mr Wells had forgotten Mr O'Brien's hands, which were on the shelf in his shed, and bagged these and threw them into the Liffey at Islandbridge the next day, Monday, January 18. Ms Dunne and members of Mr O'Brien's family sat in court as the evidence was heard.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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