Thursday 16 August 2018

Lee confessed to murdering Joanne, and keeping her body for up to six days

  • Keith Lee (42) took his own life in his single occupancy cell at Mountjoy
  • Was considered a 'high risk' after two previous suicide attempts
Joanne Lee, whose body was found in a wardrobe, with former partner Keith Lee
Joanne Lee, whose body was found in a wardrobe, with former partner Keith Lee

Ken Foy

THE husband of tragic murder victim Joanne Ball admitted killing her in a detailed hospital bed confession, which he later recounted to gardaí.

Keith Lee (42) took his own life in his single occupancy cell at Mountjoy Prison yesterday, less than four weeks after he was remanded in custody after being charged with his wife's murder in February.

Murderer Keith Lee leaves the Criminal Courts of Justice in a wheelchair having jumped from a third-floor balcony. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Murderer Keith Lee leaves the Criminal Courts of Justice in a wheelchair having jumped from a third-floor balcony. Photo: Gareth Chaney

It can be revealed Lee gave gardaí an account of the events surrounding her murder and claimed he did not realise Ms Ball was dead for many hours after he strangled her in a flat in Ranelagh, south Dublin.

It is understood Lee was on a cocktail of illicit drugs when he murdered the 38-year-old while the estranged couple were arguing over an affair that he was having with an American woman.

According to the account that Lee gave investigators, the couple were arguing in the Ranelagh Road property and he then left and slept for some time in her car.

Lee then returned to the flat in a drug-induced state and the argument between the couple continued before Lee savagely strangled his wife to death.

Joanne Ball
Joanne Ball

According to his claims, Lee was "so off his head" on drugs he did not realise Ms Lee was dead for several hours. After her murder, Lee kept her body in the Ranelagh flat for up to six days.

He wrapped her body in sleeping bags and plastic bags in a wardrobe and also placed a bag over her head.

Her body was found when gardaí burst into the flat on the afternoon of February 15.

Lee jumped from the third-floor balcony, fracturing both his legs and suffering other injuries in the process.

His life was saved at the scene by a garda who wrapped his own shirt around arm wounds to stem the bleeding.

The killer was then transferred to St James's Hospital, where he was treated for more than a month before he was finally deemed fit enough to be arrested and questioned on March 16.

Lee was charged his wife's murder on March 18. He was first sent to Cloverhill Prison before being transferred to Mountjoy, which has better facilities for prisoners in wheelchairs.

His body was found in his Mountjoy cell at 8.10am yesterday. Because of his previous suicide attempt, the killer was considered a high-risk prisoner who was under regular observation by jail staff.

A senior source said Lee was last seen alive in his cell at 6.30am yesterday.

He died in a shower area of his cell but before he killed himself, he had stuffed his bed to make it look like he was asleep.

A spokesman for the Irish Prison Service said: "An inmate passed away in custody. Foul play is not suspected."

Ms Ball's body was found at 3.45pm on February 15, two days after Lee had reported her missing to Store Street garda station.

He told officers that his wife became aware a month previously that he'd had an affair with an American woman and had self-harmed.

In reality Ms Ball was already dead for a number of days.

Investigations later established Lee and Ms Ball stayed in a hotel in Rathmines in the week before her murder and they had gone hill walking in the Dublin Mountains with their dogs on the morning of February 9.

This was the last confirmed sighting of Ms Ball alive.

Investigations quickly established that Lee was suffering from chronic drug abuse issues in the months before the murder.

Irish Independent

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