Tuesday 23 July 2019

Murder accused Paul Wells said O'Brien was 'prepared to give him €20k' for killing his partner, court hears

Kenneth O’Brien (33) was shot and dismembered at an address in Finglas, Dublin, in January 2016
Kenneth O’Brien (33) was shot and dismembered at an address in Finglas, Dublin, in January 2016
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

MURDER accused Paul Wells told gardai Kenneth O’Brien had been “prepared to give him 20 grand” for killing his partner.

Mr Wells said under questioning Mr O’Brien did not bring the money on the day he wanted the accused to kill her and the plan was to pay him “after it was done.”

Mr O’Brien had “just wanted a patsy to do that poor girl” but Mr Wells had no intention of killing her, he told detectives.

The jury in his Central Criminal Court trial was hearing continued evidence today of Mr Wells’ garda interviews in the days after he was arrested on suspicion of Mr O’Brien’s murder.

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 partner Eimear Dunne murdered and Mr Wells refused to kill her.

In interview, he said they grappled after he “lost it” on hearing the plan was to interfere with Ms Dunne’s clothes after she was killed to make it look like she had been “sexually abused.”

He said the gun fell to the ground, Mr O’Brien tried to grab it and he “thought if he got the gun he’d shoot me.”

He said he “panicked” and shot Mr O’Brien in the back of the head.

Mr Wells told gardai he chopped up his body in his backyard with a chainsaw Mr O’Brien had loaned him, put the torso in a suitcase that also belonged to Mr O’Brien and threw it in the Grand Canal in Co Kildare.

He put the limbs and head in bags and threw them into the canal at a different nearby location.

Today, the jury heard evidence of the final five of 15 interviews, held at Naas Garda Station.

Gardai asked Mr Wells about the money Mr O’Brien had transferred into his bank account and how Mr Wells has said he “facilitated” him. They asked if Mr O’Brien had “looked after” him for doing this.

“He didn’t particularly look after me, I just did him a favour,” he said. “He was prepared to give me twenty grand if I done that for him.”

The interviewer asked him what that was for.

“For killing Eimear,” he replied.

He said Mr O’Brien did not bring that money with him on January 15 and said the plan to pay him was to be “after it was done.”

“I wasn’t going to entertain him anyway,” he said, and that he did not agree to do it at any stage.

Gardai asked him if he thought Mr O’Brien might do it himself.

“Not himself, he was too cute for that,” Mr Wells replied, adding that Mr O’Brien might have got someone else.

He said Mr O’Brien was going to take his son Charlie to Australia and “live happily ever after.”

When asked about the gun, he said it was not fully loaded and had three to four “38 specials” in it.

He did not know how many bullets he fired off and was asked how many were “used on him.”

“Just the one,” he replied. “I was up close. I couldn’t have missed him.”

He said he had not wanted “any hand act or part” in doing what Mr O’Brien wanted so did not handle the gun when he arrived at his house.

If he was to take the gun off Mr O’Brien it would have been “symbolically telling him I was up for it,” he said.

The jury heard Mr Wells had made a statement to the sergeant in charge at the garda station while in his cell and this was read back to him in interview.

In it, he described the gun falling to the ground and that “I thought he was going to shoot me first.”

“I got to the gun and shot him in the back of the head,” he said. “Click, click, click and he died instantly.”

He said he cut Mr O’Brien up in his backyard and “I did it because I panicked.”

Gardai put it to him that there would have been no point in Mr O’Brien killing him.

“There was a fight,” Mr Wells said.

The interviewer said he pushed Mr O’Brien, they fell over and “that is not a fight.”

He said he “genuinely felt he would have used it on me.”

“His hand touched off it,” he said. “I got to it first. I was there, I know what happened, I have told you what happened, make of it what you will.”

“I didn’t set out to hurt anybody, I have a wife and family too,” he said.

If he had intended to kill Mr O’Brien, he would have found somewhere other than his family home, where “my child plays in the back garden,” he said.

“He just wanted a patsy to do that poor girl,” Mr Wells told gardai of Mr O'Brien.

“The way I disposed of that man was deplorable,” he said, adding that “maybe if I had my head on properly” he would have done something else.

Mr Wells told gardai he “never had a cross word” with Mr O’Brien, he was “somebody I had laughed with, got on with, had a pint with.”

He was shown CCTV footage of his movements in Dublin city centre on January 15, 2016 and said: “what I was basically trying to do that day was thwart the whole operation of killing Eimear.”

He said Mr O’Brien had a “very dark, devious side to him” and that he had “bugged his own kitchen.”

“He was my friend, I’m sorry for what I done to him but he wasn’t an angel,” he said.

He said he had not expected Mr O’Brien to call to his house that evening.

Mr O’Brien sent him photos of a woman he was seeing in Australia, and he denied he printed them off as “part of a cover up.” He said he did so after he killed Mr O’Brien, in case Ms Dunne wanted to see them.

He told gardai Mr O’Brien “got his money back.”

Interviewers asked him what the benefit was to Mr O’Brien of having Ms Dunne killed.

He replied that he would have his son in his life.

Mr O’Brien had had no insurance policy on Ms Dunne, was not named on his son’s birth certificate and “stood to gain nothing from killing Eimear.”

“I can only tell you what he told me,” he said.

Asked if he was sorry and regretted what he did, he said “of course.”

Asked about blood that was on the radiator from his shed, he said “my clothes must have touched off it.” Asked if he could explain that it was Mr O’Brien’s blood, he said “I can’t.”

The trial continues.

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