Murder accused drew map to lead gardaí to victim's body, court hears

Anne Corcoran’s killer drew gardaí a map of where he burned and buried her body after a garda recognised him from CCTV footage withdrawing money from her bank account.

Oliver Hayes (aged 49) was arrested on February 5, 2009 at his house on Clancool Terrace, Bandon, where the painter has admitted killing the Cork widow more than a fortnight earlier.

Hayes has pleaded guilty to Mrs Corcoran’s manslaughter but not guilty to murdering her between January 19 and 21, 2009. He also admits falsely imprisoning her and stealing €3,000 from her account after she went missing from her home at Maulnaskimlehane, Kilbrittain near Bandon.

Detective Garda James Fitzgerald told the Central Criminal Court that in the days before the arrest, he viewed CCTV footage of a man in a hood parking his van and withdrawing money from an ATM in Bandon. The transaction times coincided with the widow’s account being debited following her disappearance.

“I suspected that the person depicted was Oliver Hayes. He fit his description and height and walked with a peculiarity of his right leg,” he told Hayes’ trial.

“There were various identifying marks on his van, a dent on the left pillar of the windscreen and damage to the back,” he said, adding that there was also a Nottingham Forest sticker on the van.

Det. Gda Fitzgerald went to Hayes’ home on the morning of February 5 and arrested him on suspicion of murdering Anne Corcoran. Hayes was interviewed by other officers throughout the day and that night requested to see Det. Gda Fitzgerald, who he had known since the late 1970s.

“Oliver Hayes outlined that when the gardaí came to his home that morning, it had effectively ended his life. He said he was reared by a family other than his own,” recalled the detective. “He was upset and sweating. I asked him to assist in finding Anne Corcoran’s body.”

Detective Garda Bart O’Leary testified that Hayes “seemed like a broken man” as he spoke to his colleague about being fostered, his upbringing and sad life. Det. Gda O’Leary interviewed Hayes after this conversation, briefly leaving the room to get tissues for the emotional defendant.

“He told us where he’d burned and buried Anne Corcoran’s body and we asked him to draw a sketch,” recalled the detective. “He gave us directions to the woods and drew a sketch.”

Copies of the map were given to the jury.

D Gda O’Leary and D Gda Tomas O’Sullivan went to Kilmore Woods, Garrettstown the following morning.

“We followed the instructions given to us the previous night. We came to a barrier and parked there,” he said of the forested area near Ballinspittle.

“We proceeded down a pathway for 400 metres. On the left side there was an entrance to the small quarry,” he continued. “There was a rusty barrel to the right hand side. I saw what appeared to be a heap of stones and gravel covered by fresh fir tree clippings.”

Satisfied that they had found the grave described by the killer, they called their inspector and preserved the scene until more gardaí arrived. Photographs of the scene were shown to the jurors.

The five women and seven men of the jury also viewed the video tape of the first interview conducted with Hayes on February 5. In it he explained that his mother left him with a neighbour’s daughters at the age of nine months while she and their mother went to Knock for a week or two.

“They came back from Knock and they said I could stay for another while. Week by week went by,” he said. “It was grand because it was one less mouth to feed. My father was only an ordinary labourer.”

The trial continues before Mr Justice Paul Carney.

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