AT a quiet word from the prison officer, Eamonn Lillis obediently rose and slipped silently from the courtroom through a side door on his way to the holding cell. The Cawley family seemed not to have even noticed he was gone.
Lillis showed no emotion and did not pause to give a final signal to his sister, Carmel, who had faithfully attended court every day and who followed him with her eyes as he left.
From the large windows of the court, the bare branches of the trees shone silvery in the bright early spring sunshine, but Lillis never glanced up at this tantalising glimpse of freedom, as he officially began to serve his time -- six years and 11 months -- for killing his wife, Celine Cawley.
As he arrived in court yesterday morning to hear his fate, he appeared unscathed after spending his first night in Cloverhill Prison as a convicted criminal the night before.
He wore his black designer suit and his face was unemotional and resigned -- whatever was to happen, it appeared that he would unflinchingly accept it.
The courtroom was entirely full, as it had been every day of this case.
In their customary seats at the back of the courtroom, the Cawley family were all waiting in anxious anticipation.
Lillis's older sister, Elaine, was absent for the first time. But Carmel sat nervously twisting her hands.
Without ado, Mr Justice Barry White briskly addressed the convicted man: "Mr Lillis stand up please."
Lillis stood up, adjusted the lapel of his jacket with a jerk, and held his chin high.
He had been found guilty of manslaughter and the sentence for which could range from life to a suspended sentence, Mr Justice White told him.
In determining the appropriate sentence, the judge said, he had canvassed the views of the prosecution and of the defence.
The prosecution contended that his offence lay in the mid to upper range, while the defence said it was at the bottom end.
Having injured his wife, at least he had the decency to phone the emergency services and to attempt to resuscitate her, the judge said.
"It was the only decent act or acts you committed on that particular morning," he told Lillis severely, pointing out that before he made that call he had taken the time to change his clothes, hide them in the attic and to concoct the story of an intruder who attacked his wife.
He maintained this account continually and even went as far to point the finger of suspicion at an innocent man.
It was only after he had been charged and was let out on bail that he told his daughter and his mistress at the time, Jean Treacy, about the row he had with his wife.
Mr Justice White said he was considering his conduct after his wife's death and also considered other legal judgments.
And with the lies, the cover-up and the deceit Lillis had practised, when all was taken into account, it seemed to him that the appropriate sentence was one of 10 years, he said.
Somewhere in the court, someone exhaled loudly. The Cawley family all glanced at one another. Lillis's own face remained completely blank.
From the "powerful" victim impact statement by Susanna Cawley, Celine's sister, it was quite clear Lillis's behaviour had a devastating effect on people of all ages -- from his 80-year-old father-in-law to his own 17-year-old daughter, Mr Justice White continued.
Susanna had described her father as a gentleman and, having observed him in court, the judge said he had no doubt that he was a true gentleman.
He accepted that Lillis was 52 years of age with a previously unblemished record.
He also accepted the offence was out of character but -- his voice sharpening -- he said he found this hard to reconcile with Lillis's evidence of describing to his wife about the brick that she should "shove it where the sun don't shine".
Meanwhile, Mr Justice White said his expressions of sorrow and remorse "rings hollow to me" and that he considered it to be "self-serving" in light of the circumstances and manner in which he had met this case.
An offer of a plea of manslaughter had not been forthcoming but would have demonstrated true contrition and true remorse.
Mr Justice White said he was conscious of the fact this case has attracted considerable media interest and publicity.
On the balance, he thus considered the appropriate sentence to be one of seven years.
Chris Cawley shook his head emphatically as his wife Sorcha put her hand to her mouth in disbelief.
Celine's father, James Cawley, remained stoic as always.
Mr Justice White was not finished with his judgment on the media's behaviour throughout the course of this trial.
It seemed to him the media had little or no respect for the privacy or dignity of the Cawley family, he said.
From watching the news bulletins, it seemed there was a constant media scrum whenever Lillis had entered the court and this was an "affront to human dignity", Mr Justice White said.
In particular, he had noted what Lillis's daughter had said in her victim impact statement about the manner in which she had been hounded by the media.
"I can but request that ceases," he added, his voice hardening. "I call upon the media to respect the privacy of the Cawley family," he added.
He cut Lillis's sentence by a month after barrister Brendan Grehan reminded him that he already spent three weeks in custody before awaiting bail shortly after the death of his wife. The sentence was therefore one of six years and 11 months.
After a few other pieces of business, it was all over and the judge rose, leaving the families to gather themselves and their thoughts.
Susanna Cawley made her way quietly over to Lillis's sister Carmel for a word.
Carmel had "no interest" in talking to the media nor had any of their friends, she indicated.
Outside, the Cawley family emerged, Chris with his arm around Sorcha, with Susanna, James and her husband Andrew Coonan together.
They gave a brief statement thanking their "wonderful friends and neighbours" for their help, which had been both emotional and practical, and they thanked the gardai once again.
Chris took over from Andrew then with a word about Celine.
His sister had been a dynamic, kind, successful, fun-loving and caring person. "She had a beautiful energy" and lit up so many lives.
"Celine we love you," he said, and arms entwined, the family walked away into the sunshine.