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Lillis murder trial begins at new court

A jury sworn in for the trial of Eamonn Lillis, who is accused of murdering his wife Celine at their home in Howth, is scheduled to begin hearing the case today.

The trial was getting under way in the new Criminal Courts of Justice complex in Parkgate Street, Dublin.

Lillis arrived at the courtroom shortly before an 11am hearing yesterday, dressed in a dark suit, black tie and white shirt, covered by a black overcoat.

His hair neatly cropped, he spoke only to answer not guilty to the charge of murder.

He then consulted briefly with his solicitor. He is represented by defence counsel Brendan Grehan.

Delays

Lillis, who worked alongside his wife in their successful production company Toytown Films, in Windmill Lane, Dublin, denies murdering Celine Cawley at their home, Rowan Hill, in Windgate Road on December 15, 2008.

The practice of selecting jurors by video link in the new complex led to a number of delays yesterday before a panel was sworn in.

Addressing jurors, prosecution counsel Mary Ellen Ring explained that anyone with a connection to Toytown Films would be exempt from service.

She also advised that as members of Ms Cawley's family and extended family practised as solicitors, potential jurors who may have dealt with them in their legal capacity would also be ineligible to serve.

One would-be juror explained he was a first cousin of Ms Cawley, and was automatically excluded from taking part in the trial.

Lillis is the first person to stand trial for murder at the new complex.

It was also the first time that potential jurors were allowed to watch the arraignment of a murder accused.

The jury panel, sitting in an adjoining room, watched Lillis plead not guilty on the video link before 12 jurors were chosen.

Ms Cawley's father, James Cawley, appeared briefly in the court yesterday, accompanied by family members.

Ms Cawley (46) was a successful businesswoman who was the managing director of Toytown Films. Her firm was responsible for the popular TV advert for Walkers Crisps, which featured Roy Keane.

The company had a large number of top commercial clients, such as Kellogg's.

Lillis worked for Toytown Films as a producer.

Ms Cawley was a former model. She played a minor role as a party girl in the James Bond movie A View to a Kill in 1985.

Injuries

She also featured in the pages of American Vogue magazine. She modelled for Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin and Chanel.

The mother of a teenage daughter, Ms Cawley was found lying on the back patio of the family home with severe head injuries.

The trial is expected to last up to three weeks.

afinneran@herald.ie


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