Man found dismembered in canal had transferred €50,000 to killer's account

The late Kenneth O'Brien

By Natasha Reid

A Dublin father-of-one, whose dismembered remains were found in a canal, had transferred more than E50,000 into his alleged murderer’s account, a court has heard.

Kenneth O’Brien had transferred the money over an 18-month period while he was working in Australia, from where he’d returned shortly before his death.

The evidence was heard by the Central Criminal Court today in the trial of 50-year-old Paul Wells Senior of Barnamore Park, Finglas, Dublin, who has admitted shooting Mr O’Brien dead and dismembering his body.

However, he has pleaded not guilty to murdering the 33-year-old at his home in Barnamore Park on 15th or 16th January, 2016. He told Gardai that the deceased had wanted him to murder Mr O’Brien’s partner so that he could take their child back to Australia.

The court heard from Fintan Byrne, Head of Risk and Chief Compliance Officer at CurrencyFair Ltd, a foreign exchange and transfer company.

He told Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, that Mr O’Brien had opened an account with them in 2013 and that the last login on that account was on 12th January 2016.

He detailed 10 transfers from that account to a PTSB account held by the accused between June 2014 and November 2015. This amounted to a total of €47.925.

Mr O’Brien also transferred money to his own PTSB account, his partner’s PTSB account and to the accounts of two other family members.

Mr Byrne said that the total amount transferred to Ireland through Mr O’Brien’s CurrencyFair account was about E90,000

Yvonne Traynor of PTSB’s Crime and Loss Prevention Unit gave evidence of a transfer of E5,000 from Kenneth O’Brien’s PTSB account to that of Paul Wells in February 2015.

She also detailed a number of large withdrawals that Mr Wells made from his own account in December of that year and in early January 2016. The transactions involved a number of counter withdrawals of E5,000, leaving a balance of less that E300 on 15th January, the day Mr O’Brien went missing.

The jury earlier heard from Declan Porter, who had been Mr O’Brien’s boss before he left for Australia in 2013. He described the deceased as ‘an exceptional worker in every respect’. They had stayed in touch while the deceased was in Australia.

Mr Gillane asked if he was aware that Mr O’Brien ‘was seeing someone’ in Australia.

“If he wanted to tell me, he would tell me, but I wouldn’t ask or delve into his private affairs,” he replied.

Mr O’Brien had told him that he was planning to move home.

“He said he would probably come back,” he said. “But, after being away for three years, I wasn’t sure he was going to come back.”

He said that he would have been delighted to have him back working for the company in January 2016 but that ‘he wasn’t sure what he was going to do’.

However, he had asked the deceased for help for a job in Limerick, scheduled for the Friday Mr O’Brien went missing, and the deceased had agreed to go.

“I got a phone call from him to say he wouldn’t be able to come, he had to look after some business,” he said.

Under cross examination by Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, he agreed that he had described the accused as secretive. He also agreed that Mr O’Brien would not be easily persuaded to change his mind on things, but that he (Mr Porter) would have been able to persuade him.

He was asked to confirm whether Mr O'Brien had cancelled on him for that Friday or he had told Mr O’Brien that he wouldn’t need him, as he had said in his statement.

“I think it ended up that if he had other arrangements for that day, we didn’t need him,” he replied, but agreed that it had been clear to both that he wasn’t going.

He was informed that Mr O’Brien had told his partner that Mr Porter was going to collect him at 2pm that day.

“No, I was never to collect him,” he said.

The search for Kenneth O'Brien

The trial has now been adjourned until Thursday and will resume then before Mr Justice Paul McDermott and a jury.

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