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'No smoking gun', jury told as defence sums up in gran death trial

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Patricia O'Connor

Patricia O'Connor

Patricia O'Connor

There is "no direct evidence" that a person seen on CCTV walking away from Patricia O'Connor's house on the night she was allegedly murdered was actually her granddaughter Stephanie in disguise, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

The jury was also told there was "no smoking gun" in the prosecution's case against her mother Louise O'Connor, who is accused of agreeing to a "ruse" to pretend Patricia was still alive after she died.

It was argued that prosecutors were asking the jury to speculate in their cases and that of Keith Johnston, who is charged with helping the murder accused, Kieran Greene, to buy tools for concealing the gran-of-seven's remains.

The jury was hearing closing speeches in the joint trial of four people over the death of Patricia O'Connor (61) in 2017.

Dismembered

Mr Greene (35) is accused of murder, while Louise (41) and Stephanie O'Connor (22) and Mr Johnston (43) are charged with impeding his prosecution. They have all pleaded not guilty.

Before the trial began, Pat- ricia's husband Gus O'Connor admitted falsely reporting she was missing when he knew she was dead.

The retired hospital cleaner was allegedly murdered on May 29, 2017, at the house at Mountain View Park, Rathfarnham, that she shared with family including Gus, Louise and Stephanie O'Connor and Mr Greene.

Mr Greene was Louise's partner at the time. Mr Johnston - Stephanie's father - was Louise's ex-boyfriend.

Patricia O'Connor's dismembered remains were found scattered in the Wicklow mountains. She died of blunt-force trauma to the head.

The jury has seen CCTV evidence in which a person walks down the steps at the front of the house with a suitcase at 9.34pm on May 29, and the prosecution alleges this was Stephanie O'Connor, dressed as her grandmother.

A person comes in the back door half-an-hour later with a bag. Stephanie said in interview this was her.

Barrister Garnet Orange, for Stephanie O'Connor, said there was no direct evidence identifying her or anyone else as the person seen walking down the steps.

Mr Orange warned the jury to take "great care" over CCTV footage, and said the prosecution ignored evidence that did not suit its narrative.

"If Stephanie knew that the footage was there and this was a charade for the benefit of the TV audience, why on earth would she allow herself to be videoed walking in the back door in full view of the camera she knows is there, carrying the very props that were used to set up the charade in the first place?" he asked.

Barrister Michael Bowman said there was "no smoking gun, no forensic evidence, no admissions" in Louise O'Connor's case.

Hatched

He said the jury could not rely on the CCTV from the back garden in which the prosecution maintained the "plan was hatched".

It was alleged to show Louise in a discussion with her daughter and Mr Greene, but Mr Bowman said his client could not be seen speaking.

She could not be found guilty by mere presence in the house, or by association, he said.

Barrister James Dwyer said that in Mr Johnston's case, the jury was being asked to speculate about what he knew when he went on a shopping trip with Mr Greene on June 9, 2017, the day before the first body parts were found.

There was no secrecy, and Mr Johnston "couldn't be more open" on CCTV where there was no attempt to disguise and items were bought without bagging them.

The jury might think his movements were suspicious, but any scrutiny would show "the evidence simply isn't there", he said. The trial continues.


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