The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
A man accused of impeding the investigation into the murder of Kenneth O'Brien went on his stag party to Latvia with his father, just days after his father had dismembered the victim's body with a chainsaw, a Central Criminal Court trial has heard.
The jury was listening to further garda interviews yesterday, Tuesday, November 12, in the trial of Paul Wells Junior (33), who is charged with impeding the apprehension or prosecution of his father Paul Wells Senior (51) by disposing of a chainsaw in Co Kildare nearly four years ago. The prosecution allege the accused did so knowing that his father had taken a life.
Detective Sergeant Padraig Cleary has told prosecution counsel Michael Bowman SC that Mr Wells Jnr made a voluntary statement to gardai at Leixlip Garda Station on February 5, 2016, and was arrested the next day on suspicion of murdering Mr O'Brien with a firearm.
Det Sgt Cleary continued giving evidence to Mr Bowman today concerning Mr Wells Jnr's third and fourth interviews on February 6 and 7.
Mr Wells Jnr told gardai that his brother, Gary Wells, gave him a chainsaw from his father on January 17. It was inside a black bin bag and the accused put it into the boot of his partner's car, where it stayed for two days. Mr Wells Jnr told gardai: "I didn't think much of it at all, I certainly wasn't linking it to what had happened in the canal." The accused agreed with gardai that it looked like his father was trying to set him up or bring someone down with him.
The accused said he went to see his mother in their Finglas home on the morning of January 19 and Wells Snr was on his own in the sitting room. His father was looking out the window and seemed very edgy, with one of his legs shaking uncontrollably.
The accused said Wells Snr was muttering: "I couldn't do this. I couldn't do this." "I asked what was wrong but he said nothing," he continued. When Mr Wells Jnr went to leave, his father asked him if he had seen the news. "I asked in relation to what and he said 'about the body being found down your way'," said the accused. "I asked if he was talking about the Eastern European guy and he said the body was not Eastern European but a west Dublin man," said Mr Wells Jnr.
In cross-examination, Det Sgt Cleary agreed with defence counsel Damien Colgan SC that it was not publicly known the deceased was a man from west Dublin, when Wells Snr said it to the accused on January 19.
Mr Wells Jnr told gardai he had removed the chainsaw from the car boot on January 19, when he heard on the news that the body of a west Dublin man had been found. He said his father was acting strange and he [the accused] was starting to panic.
Mr Wells Jnr told gardai he had seen the chainsaw once before in his father's shed and brought it up to his bedroom that evening to check it for blood-stains. He removed the casing of the chainsaw and saw dried blood as well as a piece of brown meat around five inches long embedded in the motor, he said, adding that at first he thought it was dog meat. The smell off the chainsaw was of heavy-duty bleach and petrol, which was overpowering, he explained. "I didn't want to believe it was human, I wanted to believe he was after killing an animal," he said.
Following this, the accused said panic set in and he took it upon himself to get rid of the chainsaw by driving to the canal beside Carton House in Maynooth. He contemplated for about 15 minutes whether he should throw the motor of the chainsaw into the canal and finally decided to. He didn't contact gardai as he was afraid his father would have him shot.
Mr Wells Jnr told gardai that he disposed of the chainsaw blade and chain in The Curragh the following day.
The accused told gardai that he dropped to his knees when he heard it was Mr O'Brien that had been killed as he was meant to be his father's friend. He said to gardai that he was sorry he had not come forward sooner.
Gardai put it to the accused that he believed his father was responsible for the murder of Mr O'Brien and he was in possession of a chainsaw at the time. "If I knew that chainsaw had something to do with it, I wouldn't have touched it," he insisted, adding that he did not know why his father had involved himself or his brother Gary.
In his fourth interview, the accused told gardai that he asked his father straight out in Latvia if he had murdered Mr O'Brien. His father smirked and said he was left with no choice, said Mr Wells Jnr. The accused's stag party took place in Latvia on January 22 and Wells Snr had gone.
Gardai put it to the accused that he had gone to Riga knowing his father was involved in the murder of Mr O'Brien. "I know, I was just trying to be normal," he replied.
When gardai put it to the father-of-one that he had willingly taken the chainsaw, he replied: "I had the chainsaw but I was unaware of what it was used for."
Mr Wells Junior, with an address at Beatty Park, Celbridge, Co Kildare has pleaded not guilty to disposing of a chainsaw motor at a time unknown between January 19 and 20, 2016 in Co Kildare and not guilty to disposing of a chainsaw blade and chain on January 20, 2016 in the same location.
Paul Wells Senior, of Barnamore Park, Finglas in Dublin 11 was jailed for life last year having been found guilty of murdering Kenneth O'Brien at his home in Finglas on January 15 or 16, 2016. Wells Snr admitted that, after shooting the 33-year-old father in his back garden, he had dismembered his body and dumped it in a suitcase in the Grand Canal.
The trial resumes on Thursday before Ms Justice Carmel Stewart and a jury of six men and six women.