Tuesday 20 February 2018

'The rapport between us was slightly different -- I noticed his nice hands'

Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

IT was the moment everyone packed into Court 19 had been waiting for. Unobtrusively tucked away into a far corner of the courtroom, Jean Treacy rose rapidly to her feet when her name was called by the court clerk.

Almost every neck craned forward to get a better look.

This was the masseuse who had been recommended to Eamonn Lillis for his bad back on the advice of his wife, Celine Cawley, and who had carried out an eight-week relationship with him in the run-up to his wife's brutal death in December 2008.

Those in court might have wondered if she would have to pass directly in front of Mr Lillis in his seat on her way up to the witness box to give evidence.

She didn't, slipping through the glass screen and walking behind him instead. He did not look up but busily perused a sheaf of notes, head bowed in apparent concentration.

She looked almost exactly as we had expected her to. A beautician and therefore impeccably groomed -- though not vulgarly or tackily so. Not overtly sexy but definitely pretty and very youthful looking. You could see why Mr Lillis had found her so attractive.

She wore her long dark hair swept in a side parting with a few caramel highlights dispersed through it. Her face was round and gleamed with a careful application of discreet make-up, her eyes emphasised with a wing of dark eyeliner.

She wore a white buttoned blouse, black trousers and a belted black coat and cut a very attractive and self-assured figure as she took the Bible in her hand and uttered the oath in an unwavering voice.

Her eyes were frank, though a little wary, as she sat down to begin the process she must have been dreading for more than a year.

She was 32, she told the court. She had worked in marketing for five years and still managed to study beauty therapy by night, doing five courses over two years, Ms Treacy said, smiling as she spoke.

In August 2006, she had begun work at a Howth beauty salon, first part-time then full-time, doing facials, tans, nails and massages.

It was in this capacity that she had first met Ms Cawley, who used to come in regularly for a deep-tissue massage.

Ms Cawley didn't like too much pain so she used to do a lighter massage for her, Ms Treacy elaborated.

"It was through her that you met Mr Lillis?" Mary Ellen Ring, for the prosecution, prompted.

"Yes," Ms Treacy answered, with a little inward breath. She used to give him a weekly deep-tissue massage on his back every Friday. He was one of her regular clients.

They had shared an interest in dogs and one day she had mentioned that she would like to see a picture of his.

He said he had some photos on the iPod in his car and so she came out to see.

"The rapport between us was slightly different that day," she said.

She had noticed his hands. They were "particularly nice for a man's", she noted.

The next Friday, he came in for a massage and complained of stiffness in the muscles in the front of his shoulder.

Normally when people turn on the front, they close their eyes, Ms Treacy said. But for some reason, Mr Lillis was staring at her almost to the point where she was uncomfortable.

He kept staring and smiling at her and asked her what she was thinking. "There was a certain atmosphere at that point," she said.

He continued staring and then Ms Treacy said: "Feel my pulse," as her pulse was racing.

"I said 'that's what I'm thinking'," she said, adding that she had then walked out of the room.

THE following Friday, Mr Lillis came for his usual massage and their relationship had changed.

"There was a different atmosphere between us," Ms Treacy said. Their relationship had changed about eight weeks before the death of Ms Cawley.

At the back of the room, Ms Cawley's family -- her father Jim, brother Chris and sister Susanna -- listened intently, Susanna with her hand over her mouth.

They would communicate by text and with calls on a regular basis, almost every day, Ms Treacy continued.

Ms Ring asked if theirs had been a sexual relationship.

"Yes," said Ms Treacy, simply.

"You were aware he was married to Celine?" pressed Ms Ring. "Yes," she replied again, though in a slightly lower voice.

Only for the fact that Mr Lillis had told them of their alleged marital difficulties, she would never have known.

"They looked very good together," she said.

He'd told Celine that he was unhappy in the marriage and they'd had a discussion, she revealed.

His wife had said they would make a list and work on the points with which he was unhappy. Later on, Ms Treacy admitted she had developed feelings for Mr Lillis.

At the time she had thought it was love but she now realised it was "more infatuation than anything -- it came and went".

On the Monday morning of Ms Cawley's death, she had texted him -- they had normally met most Mondays -- asking him to bring the Mercedes Jeep.

"Not from a seedy, sordid point of view," she hastened to tell the court, adding that it was merely more comfortable and because it had tinted windows, it meant you didn't have to keep "looking over your shoulder".

Around noon or 12.30pm, she had texted him again asking if everything was okay but had received no reply.

By that point, Celine Cawley had already been dead for more than two hours.

Irish Independent

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