Thursday 12 December 2019

Widow's killer had 'sleepless nights' over €10,000 debt

Natasha Reid

THE killer of widow Anne Corcoran was being pursued by his credit union for more than €10,000 of bad debt, his murder trial has heard.

He had also paid nothing off his mortgage for almost two years when he decided to rob the 60-year-old widow.

Oliver Hayes (49), of Clancool Terrace, Bandon, Co Cork, entered the witness box at the Central Criminal Court yesterday. He said at that time he was having "a lot of sleepless nights, wondering where money was going to come from".

Hayes told the court he decided to rob someone, but added: "I made the wrong decision."

The painter has pleaded guilty to manslaughter but not guilty to the murder of Anne Corcoran between January 19 and 21, 2009, after abducting her from her home at Maulnaskimlehane, Kilbrittain, Co Cork on January 19.

Hayes has also pleaded guilty to falsely imprisoning her in his house and stealing €3,000 from her bank account in the days following her death.

The court heard yesterday that the accused told gardai his victim had to show him how to open her car's boot before he locked her inside, with her hands tied.

He told Blaise O'Carroll SC, defending, that it was to destroy any evidence from him that he burned Mrs Corcoran's body on January 24 last year, before burying it in woodlands near Ballinspittle.

"You cover your tracks," he said. "Anything that's burned is hard to find DNA. Any drop of sweat or an eyebrow can catch you."

The killer's former girlfriend said in a statement read to the court that Hayes had scratches on his "deadly white" face on January 20 last year.

"I commented that he looked like he had been in a cat fight," said Josephine Collins of Churchview, Ballinspittle.

She said Hayes had told her a car had almost hit him when he was out walking and that he got the scratches when he ended up in a ditch.

Hayes paid her son cash he owed him four days later, before the three of them went skiing in Austria.

"He didn't have much money on holidays," she wrote of Hayes, whom she had met at a dance in Kinsale 10 years earlier. "He never had any money."

However, she said he paid for his own trips in Austria and also paid for their train fares, with them paying him back.

Hayes didn't seem interested when they heard Anne Corcoran was missing, said Ms Collins. He later told her he had worked with Mrs Corcoran's husband and "sort of knew her".

"I was shocked as he hadn't mentioned it before," she said.

She suggested to him that the widow might have got her car stuck in woods. He told her he had come upon a woman's car in a ditch one night and had driven it out for her. They agreed it might be Mrs Corcoran and she urged him to report it.

Hayes later told gardai he had made up this story in case his fingerprints were found in the widow's car. He had been careful to wear gloves, but took them off as he approached a garda checkpoint on the day he left for the holiday in Austria.

Earlier in yesterday's hearing, gardai unsealed evidence bags containing the remains of Mrs Corcoran's charred clothes.

Det Garda Seamus O'Donnell identified a ligature that was found around the victim's mouth and a piece of burnt clothes line found around her wrists.

Photographs of Mrs Corcoran's body lying in its shallow grave were shown to the jury.

The prosecution will cross-examine Hayes this morning before Mr Justice Paul Carney.

Irish Independent

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