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Aoife Finneran: A grimace from Celine's father as Lillis's 145 passionate text messages to mistress read out

He described the relationship as some sort of mid-life crisis, but the passionate texts between murder accused Eamonn Lillis and his mistress Jean Treacy were loaded with words of love.

On December 14, the afternoon before his wife Celine was killed, Lillis had sent a text to Jean, saying: "Hi my love, thanks for text. On my home from stables. C is taking car back to get (daughter) to see horse. I really miss you my baby. Call or text asap. I love you. X"

It was one of several text messages read out in court by prosecution counsel Mary Ellen Ring as she questioned witness Detective Garda Patrick Connell, of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

He had been tasked with retrieving communications on phones and sim cards used by Lillis, and had also recovered several messages that had been deleted from the accused's phones.

As the afternoon dragged on in the crowded courtroom, the family of Celine Cawley maintained stoic demeanours as they listened to the content of the text messages.

In the two weeks before Celine's death, Lillis sent no less than 145 text messages to Jean Treacy, while they had spoken on 86 phone calls. His face pale and strained, Jim Cawley grimaced as he heard how his son-in-law had written the words 'I love you' to his mistress.

His daughter Susanna shook her head slightly, her face a mask of anguish

At the other end of the bench, her sister-in-law Sorcha simply bowed her head.

For the many onlookers gathered in court 19, it was a rather voyeuristic glimpse into the love affair of two people.


Such was the volume of people looking to gain access to the courts that a video link had been set up in a ground floor room.

However, it didn't stop the queues of people struggling to get through the courtroom doors for a closer look at proceedings.

Seated at the side of the room, Lillis paid no attention to the spectators.

Low murmurs rippled through the chambers as details of the first texts were read out, but the accused did not react.

He made several notes on the pages in front of him, using a sleek gold pen, his head low as he concentrated on the evidence.

Angling his body towards the witness box, he never looked towards the crowds.

His face remained expressionless as the jury heard how he had used two phone handsets and three sim cards to contact Jean Treacy.

One of the handsets had just one contact in its phone book, listed as J2, with the number corresponding to that of his mistress.

Judging by the content of her messages, Jean Treacy felt equally passionately about the clandestine romance with her new partner.

She had sent a text on the night of December 14 to arrange a meeting with Lillis the following morning.

It read: "You staying at home tomorrow? K going into office for part of morning so I can meet you somewhere. Miss you so much. X"

Shortly after 11pm, she had written: "Well as usual I will have to play it by ear but I will contact you as soon as possible in the morning. Night my angel. Love you infinitely. Sleep well. X."

The following morning, Jean Treacy sent more text messages.

At 10.26am, just as emergency services were tending to a stricken Celine Cawley at Rowan Hill, the woman wrote: "Everything okay?"

At 11.14am, she wrote again, saying: "getting a bit worried now babe."

By now, Lillis was giving a statement to gardai at Howth station, describing in detail a fictional intruder whom he said had attacked his wife.

His wife Celine had been pronounced dead several minutes earlier at Beaumont Hospital, but he had not yet been told the news.

On December 16, the day after the killing, Jean Treacy again contacted Lillis.

The lengthy text read: "(daughters name), that is what you really need to focus on. I am not abandoning you. You need to concentrate on you and (daughter) and whats happening to you. To do this, I dont think we should have any contact until things have calmed down (for both our sakes). Everyone is looking for a story. This is not an easy decision for me to make. Will be thinking of you and will be with you every step of the way."

In another text, she told him: "I want you to know that I still feel the exact same. Will keep those appointments for you in case you need them. Ill see you at funeral, best of luck with everything. X"

As each text message was read out, Lillis maintained his focus on his notes.

Earlier, he had remained impassive as he heard details of his interviews with gardai while in custody at Clontarf station.

Detective Sergeant Fionnuala Olahan had put it to him that he was merely a gofer in his wife's successful company, rather than being a producer.

In response, the accused had insisted: "That's a bit harsh."

If his wife had said jump, he was asked, would he have answered "how high?".

Lillis had replied: "No, not always."