| 13.2°C Dublin

Prompt medical care could have saved Celine

Prompt medical attention could probably have saved the life of Celine Cawley, the deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis has told the Central Criminal Court.

The 46-year-old woman bled so profusely from three head wounds that her already enlarged heart would have been seriously deprived of oxygen leading to her death, the court heard.

The pathologist was giving evidence on the seventh day of Eamonn Lillis's trial for allegedly murdering his wife on December 15, 2008.

The 52-year-old TV advert producer has pleaded not guilty to Celine Cawley's murder at their home at Rowan Hill, Windgate Road, Howth while their daughter was at school.

Ms Cawley died in hospital after Mr Lillis said he found an intruder attacking her on their patio. He last week admitted that there was no intruder.

Dr Curtis told the court that Ms Cawley had received three blows to her head with a blunt object and that her injuries were consistent with her first being struck a blow to the head, falling face-down unconscious, and then receiving further blows.

He gave her principal cause of death as blunt force trauma to the head with haemorrhage and postural asphyxia, and said contributory factors were obesity and enlargement of the heart.

Dr Curtis said he was told that the 5ft, 10.5in-tall woman had been found face down.

"Such a posture, particularly in an obese woman, would have splinted her diaphragm, dangerously impairing her ability to breathe," he said.

Dr Curtis said Ms Cawley's head was blood-soaked when he conducted a post-mortem examination on her body the day after she died.

He described the scalp wounds, saying there was one on the right side behind her forehead and two to the back on the left and right sides.

She had numerous scrapes on her face as well as some faint bruising on an arm and thigh. She had a bruise on her left shoulder blade, but this could be seen internally only.

Dr Curtis said there was no fracture to the skull or facial bones and no brain damage or other internal head injuries.

"In the absence of brain injury and inter-cranial bleeding, it's probable her life may have been saved if she'd received prompt medical treatment," he said.

Mary Ellen Ring, prosecuting, asked him what he made of an explanation put forward that Ms Cawley slipped, bounced back up, was pinned against glass, before she and the other person slipped to the ground, with a brick coming between her head and the ground.

"In my opinion that account does not in any way explain satisfactorily the injuries," he said.

Under cross examination by Brendan Grehan, defending, he said that only moderate force would have been needed to cause the injuries to her scalp. He said it might have taken a few minutes for her to die once unable to breathe.

He also said he could not categorically say that the injuries didn't come from a fall.