| 15°C Dublin

Wife killer Lillis to star in prison drama in front of the President

WIFE killer Eamon Lillis is set to perform for President Michael D Higgins in a special jail play next week.

Lillis – who is serving a sentence of just under seven years for the horror manslaughter of his wife Celine Cawley – is due to play a starring part in a production of The Happy Prince.

Jail insiders at Wheatfield say the 53-year-old the killer is “very excited” about his role in the play which is due to take place next Friday.

“He has a great love of drama – he has been taking drama classes. It is obvious that he is looking forward to acting in the play – he has been helping to build the stage all week,” said a source.

“The plan is for Michael D Higgins to come in to the prison to watch the play – it should be a very interesting day,” the source added.

The Happy Prince prison play is based on the famous Oscar Wilde story first published in 1888 which describes how a swallow meets the statue of the late Happy Prince, which houses the soul of the original prince, who in reality had never experienced true happiness. The statue inspires the swallow to selfless acts.

It is not known if Lillis – who was married to former Bond girl Celine Cawley – will play the role of the prince.

His big stage role comes just days after it emerged he is facing a massive bill after he was ordered to pay the overwhelming majority of the legal costs of a dispute with the family of his wife over their joint assets.

Lillis battered Ms Cawley to death on the patio of their plush family home in Howth, north Co Dublin, in December, 2008.

In the High Court last month, Justice Mary Laffoy ruled the legal costs should come from the sale of assets before they are evenly distributed between the Cawley estate and her husband.

The action had been brought by Ms Cawley's daughter, brother and sister.

Ms Cawley's brother Christopher, sister Susanna and daughter Georgia Lillis were in the High Court for the decision.

Last December, Ms Justice Laffoy ruled that Lillis is entitled to his half-interest in assets jointly owned by himself and the late Ms Cawley, who was a successful media executive.

When Lillis was questioned by gardai about her death, he concocted a story that a burglar was in the home when he came back from walking the family dog.

Lillis, who was having an affair with masseuse Jean Treacy at the time, later retracted the statement, claiming it had been made to protect his teenage daughter from a violent row he had with his wife.

After three days of deliberations during a dramatic trial in February 2010, a jury found him guilty of manslaughter.

As well as delivering the verdict, the jury took the unusual step of explaining that the prosecution had not proved intent.