Tuesday 20 February 2018

Two men go on trial accused of double murder

Nicola Donnelly

THE trial of two men accused of a double murder in Limerick has opened at the Central Criminal Court.

First cousins Patrick O'Brien (31), of Glanntan, Golflinks Road, Castletroy, Limerick, and Thomas Stewart (28), of The Cedar, Briarfield, Castletroy, Limerick have both pleaded not guilty to the murders of Desmond Kelly (23) and Breda Waters (28) on January 9, 2011, at O'Malley Park in Limerick.

In his opening address, prosecuting counsel Brendan Grehan SC with Martina Baxter BL outlined the case and told the jury they will hear evidence that about 9am on the morning of the shootings, the two accused came into the home of Mr Kelly and shot Mr Kelly in the head in his kitchen.

Mr Grehan said there will be evidence that the lock was broken on the front door.

Theresa Kelly, a sister of the deceased man, was in an upstairs bedroom minding Mr Kelly's five-month-old daughter, while Breda Waters was in a front upstairs bedroom. It is alleged the two accused then went and shot Ms Waters in the neck.

Mr Grehan said the jury of six men and six women will also hear evidence that Mr Kelly had been drinking in his home on the night before the shootings, along with Breda Waters and her sister Martina and Mattie Quinn. Mr Quinn and Martina left the house at around 2.30am and stayed in Mr Quinn's uncle's house.

Mr Kelly's sister Theresa was babysitting his baby daughter in the house.

Mr Grehan said the jury will view a significant amount of CCTV footage which shows the movements of the two accused on the night prior to the shootings and on the morning of the shootings.

He said evidence will be given that the two accused were socialising together on the Saturday night and at 8am on Sunday, 9 January 2011, they were at a house in The Cedars in Limerick.

He said Ian O'Leary called to the house in a blue Volkswagen Bora car to pick up Patrick Stewart Jnr, a brother of one of the accused, to go fishing.

"It is alleged Thomas Stewart and Patrick O'Brien asked Ian O'Leary for a lift to Patrick's father's house but Mr O'Leary was then directed to another house," said Mr Grehan.

"There will be evidence from the house owners that the two accused came into their house and took a shotgun," he said.

He said the jury will further hear evidence that Ian O'Leary was asked to drive the two accused into Southhill and he will give evidence he saw a shotgun barrel sticking out of Mr O'Brien's jacket. A gun cartridge was found in the back seat of the car.

He said it is the prosecution's case that the two accused were wearing distinctive clothing and CCTV will show two men entering the house of Desmond Kelly in O'Malley Park at 8.48am. The men were then seen leaving the house at 8.58am.

He said it is the case the two accused went to Anthony Kelly's house, left the gun in that house, changed their clothes and exited through the back door.

A next-door neighbour of Desmond Kelly has given evidence that she was awoken from her sleep with two "loud bangs" about 9am. Brenda O'Connor said she went back asleep and at around 11am was woken by Theresa Kelly knocking on her door. "She wanted me to get an ambulance so I gave my phone to my son Michael to call the ambulance," said Mrs O'Connor.

She said she went into the home of Desmond Kelly and saw him lying on the ground in the kitchen and there "was a lot of blood around him".

She said she was "in shock" but went upstairs and found Ms Waters lying on a bed who "looked dead" with injuries to her face and neck.

"I also saw a gun cartridge on the stairs," said Mrs O'Connor.

She told defence counsel Sean Gillane SC that she thought the "loud bangs" were something falling.

An aunt of the deceased Mr Kelly told prosecuting counsel her niece Theresa Kelly arrived at her home at around 10.30am and she then ran to the home of Desmond Kelly's.

"The front door was open and the kitchen door open and I saw Desmond lying down near the back door. He was wearing a navy dressing gown and there was a pool of blood around him," said Joan Barrett.

"I was calling his name and rubbing his leg when Desmond's brother Jonathan came in, screaming and he started to try and lift Desmond up," said Ms Barrett.

She said when she was walking out of the house she collapsed and gardai brought her into the sitting room where she saw the baby's car seat.

"It dawned on me then where was the child," she told prosecuting counsel. "It was then Mrs O'Connor, the next door neighbour told me she had taken the baby from the house and was minding her."

The trial, which is continuing before Mr Justice George Birmingham, is expected to last four weeks.

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