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'Just a sex affair. Relationship would be seen as a motive'

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The cinema in the Liffey Valley shopping centre where Joe O'Reilly and Nikki Pelley went to the movies

The cinema in the Liffey Valley shopping centre where Joe O'Reilly and Nikki Pelley went to the movies

The Barge Pub where the couple met at an old work colleagues' function in January 2004.

The Barge Pub where the couple met at an old work colleagues' function in January 2004.

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The cinema in the Liffey Valley shopping centre where Joe O'Reilly and Nikki Pelley went to the movies

THERE was a sharp intake of breath and all eyes swiveled to the back of the court as the name Nikki Pelley was called aloud.

After what seemed like an interminable delay, the woman with whom Joe O'Reilly had been having an affair entered the room, swept quickly past the defendant and carefully avoided looking at him.

Tanned and with her shoulder-length dark blonde hair parted down the centre, she wore a white tunic blouse with little ruffles at the wrist and neck, a red ankle-length skirt in two contrasting floral print fabrics and pointed black high-heeled boots.

There was a gold band on her wedding finger.

The crowd of onlookers in Courtroom Two in the Central Criminal Court had swelled to an all-time high, given the evidence the previous day regarding the emails sent between Joe O'Reilly and his sister, Ann, discussing the O'Reillys' marriage.

At 8.20am yesterday, curious members of the public were already arriving at the court, carrying cushions and sandwiches in preparation for a long day.

There was a barely discernible shake in Nikki Pelley's voice as she took the oath and then sat down, crossing her legs and almost immediately taking a sip of water.

Under cross-questioning by Denis Vaughan-Buckley SC for the prosecution, she told of her affair with the defendant.

They used to work together at the Viacom advertising agency and then met up again at an old colleagues' function in the Barge pub on the Grand Canal in Dublin in January, 2004.

After that, the two began to email jokes and to text one another, met a couple of months later for lunch in the Templeogue Inn and subsequently went to the cinema in Liffey Valley.

It was some three or four weeks after the cinema date that they began a sexual relationship.

As she spoke, Joe O'Reilly took furious amounts of notes in his jotter, casting a blank gaze now and again at the witness.

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They used to meet three or four times each week - at her house, mainly, Ms Pelley tentatively told the court, her voice strengthening.

It would normally be on a Tuesday and Saturday. They were sexual encounters and he would stay overnight.

She had never met Rachel but had seen her once at an event.

"Did she know about your relationship with her husband?" Mr Vaughan Buckley demanded.

"I don't think so," said Ms Pelley with a faint tremor in her voice.

Joe O'Reilly had told Ms Pelley that he and Rachel were effectively separated for a year and a half and slept in separate rooms.

Ms Pelley had met the couple's two sons "on a number of occasions" and they knew her as "Nikki".

When she admitted having stayed in the O'Reilly house at Naul when Rachel was away, the murdered woman's sister Ann Callaly and her mother, Rose, linked arms.

They continued to sit closely as Ms Pelley told how she had told gardai after the murder that the relationship was merely "an affair".

Two visa card halves were produced as evidence and Ms Pelley was asked to put the parts together.

"What does it say?" demanded Mr Vaughan Buckley.

"Miss Nikki P Reilly," she told him, under cross-questioning explaining that either herself or Joe had done this "for fun".

Asked to recall what names Mr O'Reilly used about his wife, she said he called her 'Rach' or 'Rachel'.

If they'd had an argument he'd call her 'wasp' or 'c***', she admitted, adding hastily that it wasn't a term he used often. After lunch, Ms Pelley was asked to again explain why she had told gardai that she and Joe O'Reilly had just had a sexual affair. "Joe told me he had told the gardai this and I should say the same," she told the court.

Asked why, she explained because "if it was a relationship it'd be seen as giving him a motive to kill Rachel".

Next, Mr Vaughan Buckley wanted to know if Ms Pelley had seen the Late Late Show on the night Joe O'Reilly had made an appearance. She had. Mr O'Reilly had stayed in her house that night.

After telling the court that she and Mr O'Reilly had had a "general good night" conversation on the night before Rachel was killed, Judge Barry White thanked Ms Pelley.

"Sorry?" she asked.

"Thank you, you may go down," he repeated, somewhat sharply. "Oh," said Ms Pelley, clearly bewildered, though much relieved that the ordeal was over, as she fled the courtroom.


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