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Families in tears as cousins get life for drug debt murders

AN outstanding drugs debt led to the murder of a woman and man who were shot dead by two cousins.

Patrick O'Brien (33), of Glanntan, Golf Links Road, Castletroy, Limerick, and Thomas Stewart (29), of The Cedars, Briarfield, Castletroy, began two life sentences after a jury at the Central Criminal Court convicted them of a double murder committed last year.

Father-of-three Des Kelly (23) and mother-of-three Breda Waters (28) were shot dead at Mr Kelly's home at O'Malley Park, Southill, Limerick, on January 9, 2011 by the cousins.

Martina Waters (20), a sister of Breda, gave evidence before Mr Justice George Birmingham that she had an affair with Patrick O'Brien, but it ended three or four weeks before the double murder after his wife, Susan found out about it.

She admitted she had sent O'Brien's wife Susan "nasty text messages" after Susan was diagnosed with cancer, but denied she said she hoped O'Brien's wife would die from cancer and that she would have O'Brien for herself.

On the night of the double shooting, Martina Waters went to Mr Kelly's house with her sister Breda to meet a man called Mattie Quinn.

During the night, Mr Kelly left the house for 20 minutes and returned with a bag of heroin. Martina Waters left the house with Mattie Quinn at 2.30am to go to his uncle's home.

It was the prosecution's case that the cousins entered the house at 8.48am while Des Kelly's sister, Theresa, was asleep upstairs with his five-month-old child. Des Kelly, who was in the kitchen at the time, was shot in the right side of his head at close range with a 12 gauge single-barrel sawn-off shotgun. Gardai believe Kelly owed O'Brien a drugs debt of a couple hundred euros.

The men then made their way upstairs, dropping a single used cartridge on the stairs, to a front bedroom where Breda Waters was.

Theresa Waters said she heard two people coming upstairs and heard one of the gunmen, O'Brien, asking Breda Waters where was her sister Martina.


"I heard Breda say 'I swear to God she is up in Mattie's uncle's house,' and heard something that sounded like a stick banging off a door," Theresa Waters said.

Breda was shot in the neck from the doorway and O'Brien and Stewart left the house without discovering that Theresa Waters or the baby boy was in another bedroom. Both men showed no emotion as the verdict was read out while the families of the two victims sobbed loudly and said 'Thank you'.

Ms Waters' older sister, Annie, said her family had got justice for Breda.

"She was the mother of three children and the happy soul of our family," she said.