Horrific murder trial that has transfixed Ireland draws to a close

Rory Carroll Ireland correspondent
Horrific murder trial that has transfixed Ireland draws to a close. Kieran Greene accused of killing and dismembering body of his partner’s mother, Patricia O’Connor

Prosecutors have made closing arguments in the trial of a man accused of bludgeoning to death his partner’s mother in a case that has transfixed Ireland, at times pushing the country’s general election campaign off the front pages.

Kieran Greene, 35 is charged with killing Patricia O‘Connor at the house they shared in Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, on 29 May 2017. He has pleaded not guilty, saying he acted in self-defence.

The victim was dismembered into 15 parts that were found at nine locations in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains.

Her husband, 75-year-old Augustine “Gus” O‘Connor, has pleaded guilty to reporting her as a missing person to the police when he knew she was dead. He is not on trial.

Other family members are accused of impeding Greene’s apprehension and prosecution.

His partner, 41-year-old Louise O‘Connor, allegedly acquiesced in her daughter, 22-year-old Stephanie O‘Connor, disguising herself as her grandmother to conceal the fact she was dead.

Prosecutors allege Stephanie is the person seen on CCTV footage leaving the house wearing a dark green coat and carrying a black suitcase as a “ruse” to give the impression her grandmother had stormed out.

Keith Johnston, Stephanie’s father and the ex-partner of Louise, is also accused of impeding Green’s prosecution. All three deny having done so.

After legal argument the trial judge, Mr Justice Paul McDermott, withdrew a separate charge that Keith, a handyman, had allegedly refurbished a bathroom in the house to conceal evidence of a crime.

Louise testified that living with her mother was like “walking on eggshells” and that that she could be violent and abusive. Greene told the court the victim had threatened the family and frightened the children.

The jury heard that Greene walked into a police station on 12 June 2017, two weeks after the alleged murder, and said he had done “something terrible” and scattered body parts in the mountains.

He described to gardaí chopping up his mother-in-law “to make her lighter” and packing the parts into black bags. The remains were found the same week.

Greene said O‘Connor had attacked him in the bathroom and he had defended himself with a hurley stick, saying he panicked and did not intend to kill her. “I couldn’t overpower her; if I wanted to kill her, why would I wait 10 years?”

A pathologist testified that a solid implement struck O‘Connor’s head at least three times and that the cause of death was blunt force trauma.

In December 2017, Greene amended his version and told police that O‘Connor’s husband, Gus, had killed her and that Keith Johnston, his partner’s ex, had dismembered the body. He claimed he was “set up” to take the blame.

Prosecutors said Greene changed his story because he believed that while he was in custody his partner had resumed a relationship with her ex, and was jealous. They told the jury his first version was more coherent and credible.

The trial is expected to conclude this week.