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Monday 27 January 2020

Infatuated Lillis was told to keep away from lover

Wife killer is jailed for seven years

Tom Brady and Edel Kennedy

WIFE-killer Eamonn Lillis was so infatuated with his young lover that gardai warned him to stay away from her while he was on bail awaiting trial.

The revelation came as the 52-year-old TV advertising executive was jailed yesterday for six years and 11 months for the manslaughter of his wife Celine Cawley.

The killer's defence team immediately announced their intention to appeal the length of the sentence -- but not the conviction.

As he settled into his new life behind bars, it was disclosed that his former mistress, Jean Treacy, notified gardai after she spotted Lillis near her home in north county Dublin and at her workplace in the weeks after he killed his wife.

It is understood he was seen in his car there on a number of occasions. Lillis ceased turning up at both locations after he was informed it could be interpreted as a breach of his bail conditions.

The 32-year-old beauty therapist was a key witness for the prosecution in the case and her appearance in court last month provoked huge media interest.

Sentencing Lillis yesterday, Mr Justice Barry White criticised his "offensive behaviour" after killing his wife, and for his actions, which had turned the couple's daughter overnight from a "16-year-old girl to a hardened 17-year-old adult".

After sentencing, Lillis was imprisoned in Wheatfield jail in Dublin, where he was placed in a single cell on a drug-free landing.

The 52-year-old was found guilty last week of the businesswoman's manslaughter after a jury found the State failed to prove intent to murder.

Ms Cawley, a successful advertising producer, died after she and her husband fought at the back of the couple's luxury home in Howth, Co Dublin, on December 15, 2008.

At the Central Criminal Court yesterday, Mr Justice White said Lillis had persisted in his lies to gardai to conceal his own involvement.

"Your behaviour has had a devastating effect on people of all ages, from your father-in-law, who is some 80 years of age, down to your own daughter, who is 17 years of age," the judge said.

With his head held high as he stood in the dock, a weary-looking Lillis did not flinch as he was then led away.

The Cawley family refused to comment on the sentence, but said they greatly missed their sister who was a "dynamic, kind, successful, fun-loving, caring person".

Mr Justice White said he needed to take a number of factors, including the evidence given to the jury, into account when determining the length of the sentence.

"That evidence discloses that, having injured your wife, at least you had the decency to phone the emergency services and, with their assistance, attempt to revive or resuscitate her," he said.

"As far I can see, that is the only decent act, or acts, you did that morning."

He said Lillis had taken the time to change his clothes and hide his bloodstained clothes in a suitcase in the attic.

"You concocted a story of an intruder, with whom you grappled with for your life," he said, adding that the story was designed only to conceal Lillis's own involvement in his wife's death.

"You even went so far as to point the finger of suspicion at an innocent man," said Mr Justice White, referring to the fact that Lillis had given gardai the name of a man he claimed to suspect of being the intruder.

He said Lillis had a number of opportunities to tell the truth but only did so after he was charged and released on bail.

At that point he told his 17-year-old daughter and former lover of the row he had with his wife that morning and that he and Celine had agreed to tell their daughter they had disturbed an intruder in order to explain their injuries.

Mr Justice White said he must take into account the effect his lies had on the Cawley family. "Considering the facts of the case and considering the cover-up, the lies and the deceit that you practised in the immediate aftermath of the death of your wife, it seems to me that, taking into account the offence itself, the appropriate sentence is 10 years."

Mr Justice White said he was conscious the case had attracted considerable media interest.

"On your release from prison, you're likely to still be of interest to the media, I'm taking that into account," he said, adding that he was requesting the media to respect the privacy of the Cawley family.

He said after balancing the gravity of the offence and Lillis's circumstances, he decided that seven years was the approp riate sentence to run from Thursday when he went into custody.

He reduced this by a month when Brendan Grehan, defending, asked him to take into consideration the three weeks his client spent in custody after he was charged.

Irish Independent

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