Thursday 21 February 2019

Murder accused told gardaí O'Brien had 'done a runner'

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 initially told gardaí the last time he saw Kenneth O'Brien was over a cup of coffee days before he went missing and his gut instinct when he found out he was gone was that he had "done a runner".

Mr Wells, who has admitted killing Mr O'Brien and dismembering his body, told detectives when he was first questioned that Mr O'Brien had been "living like a king" in Australia, and did not want to come home.

The jury in his trial heard memos of two of the interviews he gave after he was arrested on suspicion of Mr O'Brien's murder.

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

He has admitted 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 Grand Canal in Co Kildare.

The Central Criminal Court heard the first two interviews took place on February 6, 2016 at Naas garda station.

Mr Wells said he and Mr O'Brien "struck up a friendship and became very close".

He said Mr O'Brien "got caught" having an affair by Ms Dunne. Mr O'Brien had a "roving eye", would show him "pictures of girls he was with" and "some of them were distasteful", he said.

He and Mr O'Brien stayed in contact when he went to work in Australia. Mr O'Brien "could be secretive", he said. "He got carried away with the bright lights of Perth - he didn't want to come home," said Mr Wells.

He said he last saw Mr O'Brien on January 11, 2016, in Mr O'Brien's kitchen. Mr O'Brien was quiet and it was "hard to get conversation out of him".

Asked if Mr O'Brien had any enemies, he told gardaí "Kenneth was volatile with drink" and would have "run-ins".

In his second interview, Mr Wells told gardaí after Mr O'Brien went missing, he showed Ms Dunne pictures of Mr O'Brien and another woman. "The poor girl was in tears and truth be told, so was I," he told gardaí.

Gardaí asked him what his gut instinct was when Ms Dunne told him Mr O'Brien was missing. "Done a runner," he replied.

The jury also heard Mr Wells withdrew just under €20,000 from his bank account in the space of less than two months, after it was transferred there by Mr O'Brien.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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