SENTENCING of five people over the gruesome death and dismemberment of grandmother-of-seven Patricia O’Connor has been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Murderer Kieran Greene (35) bludgeoned his partner’s mother Patricia (61) with a hurley at her Dublin home in 2017 before cutting up the body and scattering the remains in the Wicklow mountains.
Patricia’s husband Gus O’Connor (75), their daughter Louise (41), granddaughter Stephanie (22), and Louise’s ex-boyfriend Keith Johnston (43) acted to cover up the murder by impeding Greene’s prosecution.
They were all due to be sentenced at the Central Criminal Court today but Mr Justice Paul McDermott adjourned their cases for two months due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions in the courts.
Gus O’Connor had pleaded guilty but the other four denied the charges and were convicted by unanimous verdicts following a trial that ended in February.
Greene, who faces life in jail for murder, has remained in custody since his arrest in 2017. The others, who could each be given to up to 10 years imprisonment, are on continuing bail until sentencing.
This morning, Greene appeared by video link while the four co-accused were excused from attending. Dressed in a white jumper, he sat facing the camera during the brief hearing. His lawyer and counsel for the other four accused and the prosecution were in court.
Mr Justice McDermott said the case was in for sentence but he was not in a position to proceed, with regard to "the particular circumstances that previal."
The accused had been excused from attending "apart from Mr Greene, who was in custody," he said.
Victim impact statements would be received on the sentence date and he proposed to put the case in for sentence on June 22. The parties should appear on that date, though there may be an indication by the court service that attendance is not necessary if the current restrictions remain, Judge McDermott added.
The lawyers all consented to the adjournment and Greene said "thank you" at the end of the proceedings.
During the trial, the court heard Greene beat Patricia to death at the house they shared at Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham on May 29, 2017. He buried her body in a shallow grave in a cornfield in Co Wexford, then days later returned and dug it up, dismembered it with a hacksaw and dumped the remains in the mountains.
He initially handed himself in to gardai and told them he killed Patricia in self defence after she attacked him with a child's hurley in the bathroom. However, he retracted this admission months later and said he had agreed to take the blame for Patricia's death but it was actually Gus O'Connor who killed his wife.
This version of events was rejected by the prosecution and jury.
Stephanie O'Connor, daughter of Louise O’Connor and Keith Johnston, impeded Greene's prosecution by dressing up as her dead grandmother on the night of the murder. The jury had heard this was so she would be captured on a neighbour's CCTV supposedly storming out of the house after a row, to create the illusion that Patricia was still alive and bolster any claims that she was missing.
Louise, who was Greene's partner at the time of her mother's murder, impeded the prosecution by agreeing to Stephanie disguising herself as Patricia.
Johnston, Stephanie's father and a "trusted member" of the extended family, went on a "shopping spree" with Greene days after the killing to help him buy hacksaws, hatchets and other tools the murderer later used to cut up Patricia's remains.
Before the trial started, Gus O'Connor pleaded guilty to impeding Greene's prosecution by falsely reporting Patricia missing on June 1, when he knew she was dead.