Saturday 16 February 2019

Victim sent €52,000 to accused from Australia

Kenneth O’Brien. Photo: Colin Keegan
Kenneth O’Brien. Photo: Colin Keegan
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

Kenneth O'Brien transferred more than €52,000 into murder accused Paul Wells's bank account over the space of 18 months before he was killed, a jury has heard.

Mr O'Brien had been working in Australia when he sent the money, mostly through a foreign exchange service, to Mr Wells.

The Central Criminal Court also heard Mr O'Brien told his boss he could not go to an arranged job in Limerick the day before he went missing because he "had to look after some business". The next day, his torso was found in a suitcase in the Grand Canal.

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

He admitted to gardaí 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 (33) 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 that he "panicked" and dismembered the remains.

Mr O'Brien was "an exceptional worker in every respect," former employer Declan Porter said in evidence yesterday. He kept in touch with Mr O'Brien when he went to Australia in 2013. He agreed with prosecutor Sean Gillane SC that he was aware Mr O'Brien was seeing someone in Australia but he "wouldn't delve into his private affairs".

Gda Supt Gerard Wall said one of the early lines of enquiry in the investigation related to the transfer of money to Ireland by Mr O'Brien while he was in Australia.

He sought evidence from a number of bank accounts; Mr O'Brien's Permanent TSB account at Ballyfermot Shopping Centre, his account at the Ulster Bank Mortgage Centre, an AIB account of Lorraine Leeson (Mr O'Brien's aunt), his father Gerard O'Brien's AIB account, a PTSB account of Eimear Dunne, and the accused's PTSB account, as well as his credit union account. The court heard Mr O'Brien had transferred €52,000 "and change" into Mr Wells's account.

Garda John Faherty said €47,900 of this was through a foreign exchange company Currency Fair.

Fintan Byrne of Currency Fair said Mr O'Brien's first account log in was on December 18, 2013, and his most recent was on January 12, 2016.

There was a log in from Dubai Airport which was consistent with somebody travelling back and forth, he said.

The jury then heard a breakdown of the series of Currency Fair transfers to Mr Wells' saccount between June 2014 and November 20, 2015, totalling €47,925. As well as this, a total of €8,000 was transferred to Gerard O'Brien, €2,700 to Lorraine Leeson, €23,982 to Eimear Dunne, and over €11,000 to Mr O'Brien's own account.

Yvonne Traynor of PTSB Crime and Loss Prevention then told the jury of a series of bank withdrawals totalling tens of thousands of euro the accused made in December 2015 and January 2016.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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