A FORMER schoolmate of Eamonn Lillis has told of a violent outburst in the wife-killer’s youth during which, he alleges, Lillis pulled a breadknife on his brother.
Lillis was a “headcase” who called himself Clint Eastwood and took the knife to the schoolmate’s brother in the 1970s, he alleged.
The man, who gave his name as Damien, recounted the incident to Joe Duffy on RTE’s Liveline after Lillis was given a sentence of just under seven years for the manslaughter of his wife, Celine Cawley.
Damien, from the same area of south Dublin, remembered Lillis as a “Walter Mitty” character and a loner. He said as soon as he heard Celine was dead he thought, “That was Lillis”.
“I kind of liked him, he was kind of funny at times to be around,” he said. “He was a bit of a Walter Mitty, he thought he was Clint Eastwood. He called himself Clint and he’d be living in another world. You would be sitting there chatting and you’d look over and Lillis would be in another world. The eyes would be in cuckoo land.”
Duffy put it to Damien that Lillis had been described as a dreamer who wouldn’t hurt a fly.
“You tell that to my older brother who had a breadknife taken up to him,” he replied.
“I took it off him. It wasn’t just handed straight over. That was a huge thing in those days, he actually took a knife up to him. You would be shocked. That was the type of guy you were dealing with there.
“I remember thinking at the time should I get in contact with the guards and even tell them what he was like, but then I said no, that’s crazy, because it was so long ago. Now I’m feeling a bit guilty that I didn’t.”
Damien recalled being at work at a south Dublin garage in the Nineties when Lillis came in – the first time he had seen him in 15 years.
“I remember thinking he still has those wild eyes, he’s still mad as a brush,” he said.
Asked for his reaction to hearing about Celine’s death, Damien said: “Straight away, that was him. That was Lillis. I wasn’t surprised at all. He was always a headcase. You hear these people saying what a lovely guy he was… would make your blood boil. But then I suppose we were all mad when we were young.
“Definitely he stood out. He was always a bit of a loner too, you know. You mightn’t see him for ages. I just can’t believe that that woman is dead and buried and he’s going to get out in five or six years’ time. He has to live with it, but to me that won’t be a problem to him. Look at the defence he put up,” he added.
“He’ll keep his head down, keep quiet for a few years and he’s out, he’s got everything. He was infatuated with a girl 20 years younger than him and suddenly the wife is killed.
“We kind of looked up to him for a while because he was so cool. He was a very intelligent fella as well, I’ll give him that.
“He was always in another world he always thought he was something else, he was above us all. He always wanted to be famous. He’s famous now for all the wrong reasons.”