Monday 22 July 2019

Victim's partner 'felt weak' at affair claims

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

Andrew Phelan

Kenneth O'Brien's partner "collapsed" on the floor of her home after she was told he was having an affair by the man accused of murdering him.

Eimear Dunne said she was "up the walls" when Paul Wells told her Mr O'Brien, who had gone missing, was seeing someone else.

She told a jury she had just been sent a text claiming to be from Mr O'Brien, saying he had met another woman and was leaving her.

Later she "felt weak" when Mr Wells showed her photos of Mr O'Brien and another woman, some of them "intimate".

Ms Dunne also said Mr Wells told her: "If you are reporting him missing, don't mention my name to the police."

She was giving evidence at his trial at the Central Criminal Court.

The accused, of Barnamore Park, Finglas, Dublin, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr O'Brien (33) at that address between January 15 and 16, 2016.

Mr Wells (50) 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 maintained Mr O'Brien had wanted to have Ms Dunne murdered, and Mr Wells refused to kill her.

He said he "panicked" and dismembered Mr O'Brien's remains, which were later found in a suitcase and shopping bags in the Grand Canal in Co Kildare.

Ms Dunne said Mr O'Brien, a JCB driver, had been working in Australia since 2013, travelling back for their son's birthday and at Christmas. In December 2015, he decided to come home "for good".

On Friday, December 15, he told her he had a job in Limerick and she left their Clondalkin home that morning with their son.

"I went in to Ken to tell him I was going," she recalled. "I gave him a kiss, gave him a hug."

Later, she got two texts from a number she did not recognise, purporting to be Mr O'Brien. The second was at 7.49am.

"I am heading for the ferry today, I can't handle being home and want out. I met someone else, she came to Ireland yesterday. I met her today and I'm going with her," the text read.

"I've had to spoof everyone to do this but this girl will put it right. I'll be in touch. Bye."

A name was spelled wrong and there were no full stops.

"Ken was very particular about his text messages," she said. "It's not Ken."

Ms Dunne agreed with Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, that Mr O'Brien had been "secretive" and had a relationship with another woman.

There was an incident involving a firearm after which Mr O'Brien contacted Mr Wells who he knew as an "IRA man", Mr O'Higgins said.

Ms Dunne did not know his motivation for contacting Mr Wells. The trial continues.

Irish Independent

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