Wednesday 17 July 2019

'The hard part was it belonged to Ken' - Murder accused describes crying as he used chainsaw to dismember friend

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 the scene after he dismembered his friend Kenneth O’Brien with a chainsaw was "just f**king carnage… pure carnage."

Mr Wells said he was crying as he used Mr O’Brien’s own chainsaw on him in his back yard after shooting him in the head.

He told gardai he kept “bottling it” and was “practically expecting (Mr O’Brien) to wake up.”

Afterwards, he said he picked up Mr O’Brien’s head and limbs and put them in plastic bags.

It was like a nightmare and the “smell of death was all over,” the accused told detectives.

The jury in Mr Wells’ trial was watching a video recording of a garda interview in which he made the admissions.

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

Mr O'Brien's remains were later found in a suitcase and shopping bags in the Grand Canal.

The jury was today continuing to view a video of the eighth interview of Mr Wells at Naas Garda Station on February 9, 2016.

In previous interviews, he denied any involvement in Mr O’Brien’s death before declining to reply to questions.

Yesterday, the jury heard how he then told gardai he would “tell them everything” and broke down in tears as he confessed to killing Mr O’Brien.

He said he “lost it” when Mr O’Brien told him the plan after shooting Ms Dunne was to interfere with her clothing to make it look like she had been “sexually abused.”

Mr Wells said he did not want to kill Mr O’Brien but a struggle broke out, a gun was dropped and he picked it up, “panicked” and shot him in the back of the head.

He said he dragged the body into his shed, got washed and changed and returned to the shed.

Today, he said the clock said 8.20pm at that stage. He  went back out to the shed and I “wondered some more about what I would do about the situation that I was in,” he told gardai.

“I had to get Ken out of there before Audrey came back, and (his son) Gary came in. I just hadn’t a clue what I was going to do. I didn’t know what I was going to do.

“I was just standing there looking at him,” Mr Wells told gardai, crying.

He described his shed and said to the left hand side was quantity of wood saws.

“I considered using one of them,” he said. “It was an awful thing to do and I’m so sorry, I really am. That day will never leave me ever.

“I felt time was against me though, I was frightened of being discovered."

Among the tools “there was an orange handled chainsaw. I don’t know what I was thinking,” he said.

“And the hard part for me was that belonged to Ken. I borrowed it over a year and a half or even longer previous. I never used one in my life. I had borrowed it to try to take out a tree stump that was at the end of my garden on the right hand side of my garden,” he said.

“I had originally asked Ken himself to do it for me but he never got round to it and I intended to have a crack at it,” he said.

“I eventually took down the chainsaw,” he told gardai. “I felt it was heavy and I put it down on the floor of the shed. I didn’t know what I was going to do.

“The thoughts of having to use that horrible f**king thing was just too much for me but I knew time was running out. I began to take Ken’s stuff off him. There wouldn’t have been very much room in the shed the place was a f**king mess.

“So I knew I couldn’t do it in the shed if I was going to do it at all. I pulled him outside having taken all his clothes off him. And I dragged him to the end of the garden.

He said Mr O'Brien would have weighed “16 to 17 stone solid” and Mr Wells said  “my arm was f**ked, my back was f**ked.

He said he moved two bins and “Ken was too low down for anybody to see, he was too close to the walls.”

He told gardai he made “numerous attempts to try to start the saw.”

“Eventually I got it started,” he said, crying. “I never thought I’d do that to a human being. I just had an overwhelming sense of trying to survive. 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 went into the kitchen and I got a tea towel and I wrung it until it was like a rope and I put it in my mouth and I bit down as hard as I could,” he said. “I couldn’t fucking believe it. I couldn’t believe what I’d done. “

“What sort of f**king person was I?” he continued in the interview. “Knocked off the machine. I was crying. I felt sick. That smell was all over.. of death. God, he was my friend. Why did he f**king choose me? Despite everything about him, all the way he was and that, we used to laugh, we were always fucking giggling at stuff, we’d make fun of people it was harmless like. There he was in my fucking back yard. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

“I'm telling you, people think about things like that but if you’re there you are in a fucking nightmare, it’s fucking real.”

“I sat on the ground, it was just f**king carnage… pure carnage,” he said.

He said all he could do was ask Mr O'Brien to forgive him.

“Stuff had kicked back on me,” he said. “I now had to change again. Back out to the shed and stripped. I didn’t know what time it was I wasn’t even aware of the f**king day,” he said.

“I had to push on, Audrey could ring any minute, someone come through the f**kg door, and look at me. So quickly I went into the shed and I picked up his legs and arms and his head and I put them into the plastic bags. That just left his torso then.”

“It will live with me for the rest of my life no matter what happens,” he told the interviewers. “I’ll never deal with it. I haven’t dealt with it for the last three weeks. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I’m lying in bed drowning in sweat.”

He said he thought everyone who looked at him knew and he was “going off my head.”

“There’s not a day when by when I didn’t think about handing myself in,” he said.

He told them he  went back into the shed looking for something to put the rest of the body into and came across a sheet of plastic. He  laid it down on the ground and “ I set about rolling Ken towards the plastic. I was on my knees at this stage.”

“I rolled it basically as tight as I could I manoeuvred the bag in such a way that if somebody came to my back door it was behind the bins. I was terrified of being discovered.

“I was ashamed of what I did,” he continued. “I knew at this stage I had to do something in order to get rid of the body. I hadn’t a f**king clue what to do. I hadn’t planned it. So I went inside I tried to sort of compose myself.”

He said he was disorientated did not remember if he rang his wife Audrey or she rang him “because my head was f**king cabbaged.”

“I thought about burying him, of all the tools I have I don’t have a pick and I don’t have a shovel.

I just tried to think about what I would do.”

The remainder of the eighth interview was read out to the jury. In it, the accused said when Mr O’Brien talked to him about “getting rid of Eimear”, Mr Wells “would have tried to appeal to him.. I thought his ideas were crazy.”

Mr O’Brien had thought Mr Wells was in the best position “to do this awful thing that he wanted done", the accused told gardai, adding that Mr O'Brien had proposed it in August 2015.

“He was under the illusion that I was the person for the job because of my background”, but he was wrong and Mr Wells said he did not take it seriously.

Mr Wells said Mr O’Brien had given him a hard shell suitcase and he was under the impression that he was going to take it back later and hide it in a yard, where he had also hidden two firearms.

He said Mr O’Brien had shown him those weapons previously - a pistol and a revolver. He said Mr O’Brien told him he had them in case a man called Flemo “gives me any s**t.”

“In the event that Flemo opened his mouth, Kenneth intended to put one of these weapons into it,” Mr Wells told gardai.

Asked what the significance of the hard shell suitcase was, Mr Wells told gardai: “that is the suitcase that Kenneth’s torso was found in and was put there by me.”

He said in December 2015 he gave Mr O’Brien a large brown envelope with a large amount of money that he had put into Mr Well’s bank account. He gave him a similar envelope in August 2015.

He said Mr O’Brien asked him to buy a SIM card on the day they were to meet at the Jervis Centre for Mr Wells to “take delivery of the gun.”

“I admit I did purchase that phone card, it was for Kenneth and in the event of Eimear’s murder he would have a clean chip,” Mr Wells said.

He decided not to meet Mr O’Brien and went home instead, he said.

“That is the reason why Kenneth O’Brien arrived at my home, because I had failed to meet him earlier,” he said.

Gardai then asked him to return to what happened after he killed Mr O’Brien.

“I would have worked through the night preparing to dispose of his torso,” he said.

The phone Mr O’Brien had had no chip and Mr Wells said he put the new chip into the phone and “I am ashamed to say that I sent the text to Eimear supposing to be Kenneth,” saying he was staying at a hotel.

“I don’t know why I sent that text,” he said. “I suppose I was trying to buy time.”

Later on Saturday morning, he said, he loaded the torso in the suitcase into the car.

“At that stage I didn’t have a clue how I was going to dispose of that suitcase,” he said.

He took the M50 and mistakenly turned off for Leixlip but had not planned that route, he said.

It was a cold, icy morning, he came to the canal and “I’m ashamed to say that I put that suitcase in the water,” he said.

“I contemplated taking it back out but it was too late, it had drifted into the middle,” he said.

Mr Wells said he was “oblivious to time,” still in shock and went back the way they came. He returned home and cleaned up his yard with bleach. He went to his kitchen table, was getting flashbacks and everything was “playing over in my mind,” he continued.

“All I could see was Kenneth,” he said.

He went back outside and broke the gun up with a lump hammer, then cleaned as much of the blood in the shed as he could with bleach, hot water and a sponge.

He got upset and angry at his situation and smashed up his shed in “a blind rage,” he said.

He said he bagged and disposed of the soiled material and told gardai “that is what we do, try to get away with things.”

He went to a shop, bought replacement bleach and returned and hosed the yard down, he continued.

When he spoke to Eimear Dunne at her house later that day, he found himself “transfixed” looking at her and was “happy in myself, even with guilt” that she was still alive.

He returned home and “had to come to terms with the disposal of the rest of Kenneth’s remains,” he said.

They were in plastic bin bags and he had locked them into the shed.

“I had to start the horrible task of sorting these other bits,” he said.

He set about taking each part and wrapping them in such a way that would not move, making “tight parcels.”

“I found it extremely hard to do, it wasn’t easy,” he said.

He had to make sure everything was normal when his wife and son got home.

“I had no plan," he said.

He turned the clothes inside out and brought them to a clothes bank at Clearwater Shopping Centre, then returned home and put the bags with the body parts in the boot of his wife’s car.

He said he arranged to meet his son Paul Jnr in Celbridge to talk about a planned trip to Riga and they went for a drive together.

“At the back of my head this stuff was in my car,” he said adding that his son Paul Wells Jnr had no knowledge of it.

They got to the canal and “I felt this might be the spot to dispose of poor Kenneth’s remains,” he said.

He “pretended he was bursting to go to the toilet” and Paul Jnr had “absolutely no idea what I had in the boot.”

He said he went to the back of the car, pretended he was going to the toilet and “I opened the boot quickly and disposed of the bags as fast as I could.”

He did not know “if Paul was aware of the splashes,” he said.

Mr Wells said he left as fast as he could, was emotional and “a walking zombie.”

At home, he said, he cleaned anywhere Mr O’Brien’s blood might be, cut carpet from the shed floor and put everything in bags, including the tea towel he had bitten down on “when I done that thing to Kenneth.”

The following day, Sunday, he said Ms Dunne met him again and he was “convinced I had saved her life.”

When he showed her texts showing Mr O’Brien “playing away,” he said, “I didn’t like deceiving her but I had come so far with this, it was out of control.”

He knew he had to get rid of other stuff including the gun.

He said he drove looking for somewhere “I could get this f**king thing out of my hands” and threw it in three pieces out of his car into the Liffey as he drove.

“I didn’t stop, I kept rolling, one hand on the wheel, with the other hand I flung these parts,” he told gardai.

He thought he disposed of Mr O’Brien’s phone with the gun.

He said he had used three or four red ratchet straps to tie the suitcase.

The chainsaw was still in the shed, he had covered it with two plastic bags and you could not see what was in it. He asked his son Gary to take it to Paul Wells Jnr and told gardai “them boys knew nothing.”

He “never wanted to see it again.”

In relation to the money Mr O’Brien had transferred to his account, Mr Wells said: “Kenneth was using my bank account to hide money, I don’t know what purpose it was for.”

He said he was not involved in “any of the activities” Mr O’Brien was involved in and “I was facilitating him as a friend.”

Gardai asked him about Mr O’Brien’s hands, which were never recovered.

“The same night I done what I done to Kenneth, they were in the shed, I forgot to put them in the bag,” he said. “They were left on the shelf in the shed.”

Mr Wells said on Monday evening, January 18, at about 6.30pm he threw Mr O’Brien’s hands in a bag into the Liffey near Clancy barracks.

He stopped his car at a pub, walked to the bridge “and put the package over the railings and into the water,” he said.

He denied the hands were separated “to avoid identification.”

In the ninth interview, he said he had had the hands on the front passenger seat beside him in the car and did not see them fall in the water or hear a splash.

“I’m not proud of what I did,” he said.

Questioned again about the money Mr O’Brien transferred, he said he said he was “concerned” about it but “I didn’t want to let him down.”

“He missed Charlie, he couldn’t seem to handle having Eimear around, she was always dogging him, he would say,” Mr Wells told gardai.

When Mr O’Brien arrived at his home on January 15, he said, he “bounced up to the gate” and asked “why did you not turn up?”

“He said ‘I need this done bad’, I said ‘are you off your f**king head, I’m not going to do it,” Mr Wells continued.

“I could see by the expression on his face that he was determined to have her killed,” he said.

“I was to arrive looking for him and shoot Eimear, I was to interfere with her clothes, to move them in such a way that it would look like someone had tried something with her and killed her,” he said.

Mr O’Brien “would have tried to blame some fella called Flemo.”

The accused said Mr O’Brien showed him the gun in the kitchen and had it in his waistband. Asked how many times he pulled the trigger when he shot Mr O’Brien, he said it was three to four.

He was asked how far it was from Mr O’Brien’s head.

“It was close,” he said, and was asked if it was six inches or closer.

“I wasn’t taking f**king measurements,” he said.

“A split second has taken everything away from me,” he said. “I don’t have a friend, I don’t have a family.”

He said when he dragged Mr O’Brien into the shed he was “f**king heavy” and after he took his clothes off “I didn’t know how I was going to get rid of him.”

“I had the most barbaric thing I had ever thought in my life,” he said. “The only way I could take him out was to take him out in parts.”

He was looking at the saws.

“Then I remembered I had the f**king chainsaw,” he said.

The only way was to bring him into the yard and he dragged him by the feet.

“When I chopped him into pieces I was on my knees,” he said.

It took 10 to 15 minutes to start the chainsaw and the interviewer asked him what made him decide what to cut first.

“I couldn’t even touch him,” he said. “I bottled it every time. I couldn’t do it. I made a couple of attempts to cut Kenneth and I couldn’t do it.”

That was when he got a tea towel to bite down on, he said.

“It was f**king savagery,” he said.

He then described bagging the body parts. After he put the torso in the suitcase, he said he left it out in the yard for hours, then brought it through the house and “with great difficulty” put it into the boot of the car.

The trial continues.

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