Wednesday 16 October 2019

Murder victim's fiancee swapped bouquets for wreaths

ssNiamh O'Donoghue

A MURDER victim's fiancee told how she had already bought the dress for their big day but had to go to the florists to ask for the wedding bouquets to be turned into funeral wreaths.

Alice O'Brien said it felt like "only yesterday" that she was planning to tie the knot with John O'Brien who was battered to death by his friend Thomas O'Connor.

Last night O'Connor (24), of Burnaby Court, Greystones, Co Wicklow, was beginning a life sentence for murdering the 22-year-old in Delgany on June 4, 2010.

He had admitted killing Mr O'Brien to gardai but pleaded not guilty to a murder charge.

But on November 25 last a jury of six men and six women returned a unanimous verdict of guilty after nearly four hours of deliberation.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Barry White told O'Connor that he had no discretion and handed down a life sentence, backdating it to the day of his arrest on June 5, 2010.

The court also heard that O'Connor has 13 previous convictions for offences including criminal damage, failure to appear, theft and no insurance.

Detective Sergeant Eamon O'Neill told the Central Criminal Court that the pair were friends and had been drinking that day.

O'Connor told gardai that Mr O'Brien started a row with him and he grabbed a rock and hit him two or three times over the head with it.

He told gardai twice that he didn't mean to kill him, and the defence of provocation was used during the trial.

Ms O'Brien's victim impact statement was read to the court, stating that she and Mr O'Brien were due to be married in September of 2010.

Ms O'Brien said she had started planning the wedding day already and had bought her wedding dress. She said the most heartbreaking thing was going to the florists to tell them to turn the wedding bouquets into wreaths.

"At first I thought it was a dream. It was totally unbelievable," she said.

Outside the court, the victim's father, James O'Brien, said the sentence was "fair" and that he wanted to thank the gardai, the legal team and all of his neighbours and friends who supported them.

Irish Independent

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