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'It's not closure', says partner as killer's son gets 18 months in jail

Murderer 'made threats on defendant's life from prison'

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Eimear Dunne, the grieving partner of Kenneth O’Brien, was speaking after Paul Wells Jnr was sentenced. Photo: Collins Courts

Eimear Dunne, the grieving partner of Kenneth O’Brien, was speaking after Paul Wells Jnr was sentenced. Photo: Collins Courts

Eimear Dunne, the grieving partner of Kenneth O’Brien, was speaking after Paul Wells Jnr was sentenced. Photo: Collins Courts

The grieving partner of a Dublin man who was shot dead and dismembered before his body parts were dumped in a canal has broken her silence after the killer's son was sentenced for his role in impeding the garda investigation.

Eimear Dunne said a three-year sentence with 18 months suspended handed down to the killer's son was not justice.

Kenneth O'Brien (33) was shot dead by Paul Wells Snr (51) at the killer's home in Barnamore Park, Finglas, in January 2016 before he dismembered his body with a chainsaw.

He was found guilty of murder in 2018 and sentenced to life in prison.

Insult

Paul Wells Jnr (33), of Beatty Park, Celbridge, Co Kildare, pleaded not guilty to disposing of the chainsaw parts on January 20, 2016, knowing it was used in a crime.

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Paul Wells Jnr

Paul Wells Jnr

Paul Wells Jnr

He was found guilty last November and was yesterday sentenced to three years with 18 months suspended in an emotionally charged courtroom.

Speaking afterwards, Ms Dunne said the sentence did not represent justice.

"It's not justice really. I still have a child with no father. No, it's not closure," she told the Herald.

"He [Wells Jnr] didn't kill him [Kenneth] and for that I am grateful, but he had a role."

The Wells family was emotional in court, and some of them hugged Wells Jnr tearfully before he was taken away to start his sentence.

This provoked an angry reaction from one emotional woman, shouting it was "an insult" and "he can still see his children".

Sentencing judge Ms Justice Carmel Stewart said that the "brutal manner" in which Mr O'Brien's body was dismembered and disposed of "defies belief".

The judge said that it had been previously urged upon the Central Criminal Court to suspend the sentence in full due to the defendant's family background, but she did not think this would mark the gravity of the offence.

The judge also asked that prison authorities take into account the threat relayed by Wells Snr to his son Wells Jnr. The court has heard that Wells Snr has made threats from prison on the defendant's life.

Defence barrister Damien Colgan SC told the judge that his client was not involved in the murder of Mr O'Brien, had no previous convictions, was exposed to violence from an early age and greatly assisted gardai with the investigation.

The court also heard that Wells Jnr had a "difficult history" for the previous 15 years with his father and a credible threat had been placed upon his life by him.

Passing sentence, Ms Justice Stewart said the "brutal" murder of Mr O'Brien was compounded by the disposal of his body and the "savage actions" of Wells Snr.

The judge said Wells Jnr had initially attended Leixlip Garda Station and given a voluntary statement to gardai.

Following his arrest, the defendant took part in 15 interviews which greatly assisted in the prosecution of his father, she said.

Ms Justice Stewart said she noted that the sister of the defendant, Amy Wells, had apologised for her brother's actions and the family in not coming forward sooner, as this had allowed Wells Snr to evade prosecution for two weeks and attend the funeral of Mr O'Brien.

The judge said this confirmed that there was knowledge within the Wells family of what had happened for at least two weeks until Wells Jnr came forward to gardai on February 5.

Referring to the victim impact statement read to the court by the deceased's father, Ms Justice Stewart said the O'Brien family's grief was "unimaginable".

Having regard to the gravity of the offence, the judge said the maximum sentence was 10 years in prison.

Wells Jnr was not directly involved in the death of Mr O'Brien, explained the judge.

Consideration

She said the headline sentence was four-and-a-half years and placed the offence in the middle range of gravity.

A mitigating factor in his sentence was that he had assisted gardai with the investigation and on account of this the judge reduced the headline sentence to three years.

The judge said it had been urged upon the court that the sentence should be suspended in full because of Wells Jnr's family background and his current family situation.

"I've given great consideration to that option, but do not think it would mark the gravity of the offence," she said.

Wells Jnr was sentenced to three years in prison with the last 18 months suspended on condition he keeps the peace for that period of time.

At last week's sentence hearing, the daughter of murderer Wells Snr read a statement to the court and said her family was "devastated and disgusted" at what their father did, and that it did not represent who they were.

Amy Wells, the younger sister of Wells Jnr, offered her family's condolences to the O'Brien and Dunne families.

"We can't imagine what both families have gone through with Kenneth being taken away in such a cruel and barbaric nature," she said.

"We as a family are devastated and disgusted at what Paul Wells Snr has done to Kenneth and both your families.

"Paul Wells Snr doesn't represent who we are as a family. We are normal, decent people who are of good moral standing.

"As a family, we stand with you in grieving for Kenneth and pray for him every day."

Mr O'Brien's father, Gerard O'Brien, also read a statement to the court last week saying his son was murdered by Wells Snr on January 15 or 16, 2016, and it had been "four indescribable traumatic years" for his family and friends.

He said January 19, 2016, was a night that will never be forgotten by them as they found out their "wonderful" Ken "was in fact a torso in a suitcase, discarded in the canal".

Mr O'Brien said it was six days later on January 25 when the rest of his son's remains were found and identified, and this felt like "a lifetime" for all of them.


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