Kenneth O'Brien, whose dismembered body was found in the canal in Ardclough
A Central Criminal Court jury will resume deliberations this (Tuesday) morning in the trial of a murder accused, who ‘chopped’ his friend up with a chainsaw after shooting him in the defendant’s back yard.
Before it retired, the judge reminded the jury of seven coincidences that the defence said supported the accused man’s story that he shot his friend during a scuffle over the deceased asking him to murder the mother of his child.
Paul Wells Snr (50) of Barnamore Park, Finglas has admitted shooting dead fellow Dubliner Kenneth O’Brien and dismembering his body. However, he has pleaded not (NOT) guilty to murdering the 33-year-old at his home in Barnamore Park on 15th or 16th January, 2016.
The father-of-five claims that the deceased had wanted him to murder Mr O’Brien’s partner, so that he could take their child back to Australia, where he had previously lived.
He told gardai that Mr O’Brien had brought a gun to his house for this purpose on the evening of the 15th but that he didn’t want to do it. He said this resulted in a scuffle between them, that the gun fell, they both tried to get it, but that he got to it first and shot his friend in the back of the head.
He said that he then panicked, ‘chopped him into pieces’ with a chainsaw Mr O’Brien had lent him, put his torso into Mr O’Brien’s suitcase and dumped it in the Grand Canal.
Mr Justice Paul McDermott began charging the jury on Friday and concluded yesterday (Monday).
He reminded the 11 jurors of matters that Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, had said supported his client’s defence that there was a conspiracy to murder Mr O’Brien’s partner, Eimear Dunne.
Mr O’Higgins had referred to them as a series of coincidences that arose on the very day that Mr O’Brien had allegedly intended to have his partner killed.
These included the fact that the CCTV system in the couple’s home was not working that day and that its code had been changed, something Ms Dunne said that only Mr O’Brien could have done.
There was the cancellation, by Mr O’Brien, of Ms Dunne’s 30th birthday party that night; he had said he was working in Limerick that day, but this work was also cancelled.
The judge also reminded the jury that Mr O’Brien had no house keys, but had cut some the previous day, that he ‘had two phones on the go’, and that his passport was missing at the time of his death.
He also noted that Mr O’Higgins had argued that Mr O’Brien had given suitcases to Mr Wells, one of which was handed over at the boot of a car, with him allegedly telling Mr Wells that he didn’t want Ms Dunne to know about it.
Finally, he noted that the numbers for two of Mr O’Brien’s employers had been removed from Ms Dunne’s phones.
The judge explained that the defence case was that these coincidences supported the proposition that there was a conspiracy to murder Ms Dunne. He reminded the jury that the prosecution had argued that there was premeditation in the killing of Mr O’Brien.
The 11 members were given three possible verdicts: guilty, not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter, or acquittal, and were told to reach a unanimous decision.
They began considering their verdict shortly after noon and had deliberated around three hours before going home for the evening. They will resume deliberations this morning.