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'It must have been burglar as we have no enemies'

Murder accused Eamonn Lillis first told gardai "we have no enemies, I can only assume it was a burglar" as they interviewed him about the death of his wife Celine Cawley.

The film and television producer (52) also described his wife as a "tough nut" who would have confronted the burglar.

Lillis has pleaded not guilty to murdering Celine (46) at their home, Rowan Hill on Windgate Road, Howth while their daughter was at school on December 15, 2008.

The jury at the Central Criminal Court has been told how in his first statements to investigating gardai, Lillis described in detail how he found an intruder assaulting his wife on the deck outside their kitchen on the morning of her murder

He has since admitted through his legal team that there was nobody else in the house that morning besides himself and his wife.

Wallflower

"Celine is a fighter, a tough nut," Lillis told detectives the day after Celine Cawley died, suggesting that she must have disturbed a burglar and chased him out the back door. "She would have confronted someone. She wasn't a wallflower."

In two handwritten statements taken by Det Sgt Enda Mulryan on December 15 and 16, 2008, Lillis told how he also had been attacked by the intruder which explained the injuries to his face.

He said he got up at 6.30 that morning and did sit ups. At 6.50 he made tea and brought a cup to his wife of 17 years, whom he had met in Kinsale in September 1990.

She had a bad cold and so he had slept in the upstairs bedroom while she slept downstairs. He said they watched television in her bedroom until 7.40am when he went for a shower. He then brought their teenage daughter to school in his Mercedes jeep, unlocking the electric gates to leave.

He met an old college friend and spoke about getting ready for Christmas. He drove home, unlocking the gate again and took his dogs for a walk.

He told gardai he did not see his wife at this stage. They had a meeting scheduled for 2pm with their pension provider.

He described the route he took with the dogs and how when he returned "that's when I saw him on top of Celine," he said. "I don't know what he was doing. He was at her top. I charged out the door, roaring."

The attacker swung at him with a brick, there was a scuffle "then he legged it. "He was wearing a ski mask ... definitely not a homemade balaclava ," he said, describing the man's gloves as nylon and his jeans as dark blue. "I saw his mouth. He was definitely a white male."

The intruder had run down the garden towards a 6ft fence which had been erected after a burglary. Lillis then named the man they suspected of burgling the house previously and suggested it could be the intruder.

In his second statement, Lillis told how he passed out after the intruder hit him.

He also gave more detail about the 5'11" attacker's clothes, saying the sleeves of the bomber jacket were a different colour and material to the rest of it.

"It was a bit like a garda's jacket," he said.

The trial continues.

hnews@herald.ie


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