Meg Walsh murder trial in final stages

The Central Criminal Court trial of a Waterford man accused of murdering of his wife has entered its closing stages, as the judge hears the defence’s application to withdraw the case from the jury.

Mr Justice Barry White told the jury of seven men and five women that, now the prosecution had completed their case, “the defence are entitled to apply to me to withdraw this case from you deliberations”.

He said that since this application would take some time and would require reviewing some of the evidence in the case, the jury would not be required until Tuesday.

Bus driver Mr John O’Brien (aged 41) with an address in Ballinakill Downs, Co Waterford denies murdering 35-year-old Meg Walsh on a date between October 1-15, 2006, somewhere within the State.

The mother-of-one’s body was recovered from the River Suir on October 15, 2006. She had died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Also today, the jury heard from Detective Garda Anthony Pettite who told Mr Dominic McGinn BL, prosecuting that he had examined Ms Walsh’s bank accounts.

Det. Gda Pettite said he had been asked to investigate what had happened to the money from a Christmas saving’s scheme Ms Walsh managed in her job as office manager for Meadow Court homes, known as the Diddly Club.

He said that Ms Walsh had been in the practise of lodging cash amounts on an almost weekly basis with her wages cheque. Based on an examination of her accounts for 2005, it was apparent that she would use the money for her day-to-day expenses and borrow on her credit cards to repay people at Christmas.

He said that at the time of her disappearance there was not a substantial amount of money in Ms Walsh’s account. The jury had previously heard that more than €12,000 had been collected so far that year for the Diddly Club.

Det Gda Pettite said that Ms Walsh was the kind of woman who did not use cash. She relied on an AIB Laser card, an AIB Mastercard and an MBNA Visa card. These cards had been found in a wallet in the kitchen of the house she shared with the accused when gardaí searched the premises.

The jury also heard from Mr Eugene Aylward who told Mr Denis Vaughan Buckley SC, prosecuting that he had seen Mr O’Brien near the entrance of the Sycamore Estate in Waterford on October 7, 2006.

Gardaí subsequently found blood covered sections of a car mat and spare wheel cover from Ms Walsh’s car near where Mr Aylward saw Mr O’Brien.

Mr Aylward told defence counsel Mr Paddy McCarthy SC that he was “100% certain” that it was Mr O’Brien he saw that day, even though it was only a fleeting glance.

He said he had been a courier for 20 years and was on the roads every working day.

“I was there you weren’t,” he said. “I know what I saw.”

The trial continues in legal argument tomorrow before Mr Justice White.

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