By Eoin Reynolds
Two women admitted suffocating a man to death by holding plastic bags over his head. The admission came after one of them gave an interview to a Sunday newspaper explaining her role in the death.
Anna Marie Pezzillo (35), of no fixed abode, and Rachel Comiskey (35), with an address at Dodsboro Cottages, Lucan pleaded not guilty to murder, guilty to the manslaughter of Ian Quinn (32) at Annally Grove, Ongar, Dublin 15 between May 30 and 31, 2014.
Their pleas were accepted by the State on March 5 last and Justice Patrick McCarthy today heard a sentencing hearing for the two women at the Central Criminal Court.
Sean Gillane SC for the prosecution read an impact statement on behalf of the Quinn family. They said that Ian was the eighth in a family of 13. He was a kind and loving person but had taken a wrong path by taking drugs. Their family has been devastated by his death and they will never recover from it.
Detective Garda Paul Kirwan told Mr Gillane that Comiskey was in a relationship with Ian Quinn for 12 years and they lived together at Annally Grove. On the Wednesday before Mr Quinn was killed, Pezillo was released from Limerick prison and went to stay with Comiskey. Mr Quinn joined them the following day.
All three had problems with addiction to drugs and alcohol and significant quantities of both were consumed over the following days.
On the Saturday morning, May 31, at about 3am a man came upon the two women outside the apartment shouting for a mobile phone. Comiskey rang emergency services and said she and Pezillo were asleep and when they woke up Mr Quinn was dead.
When emergency services arrived Mr Quinn's body, cold and showing signs of rigor mortis, was in a bedroom dressed in boxer shorts.
At the scene one of the women said, "We had a bag over his head," and when they spoke to gardai at the scene they said they had been drinking vodka for two days and taking tranquillisers.
Comiskey told gardai that Mr Quinn was "swinging me around the place" and that they put a bag over his head and said: "How do you like it?"
Comiskey also said that she put holes in the bag to allow him to breathe and both women maintained that they hadn't intended to kill him but wanted to frighten him.
The two women were arrested and questioned but subsequently released from custody. About one week later an article appeared on the front page of the Sunday World newspaper in which Pezillo admitted her role in the killing.
She said all three of them had been drinking and taking tablets and fell asleep. When they woke up Mr Quinn had wet himself and Comiskey took his jeans and top off. Mr Quinn became annoyed and a fight broke out. Pezillo thought Mr Quinn was going to hit Comiskey so she intervened but was struck in the face.
They put two bags over his head and said to him: "How do you like it." She said they did it for "just a few seconds" and afterwards they thought he had passed out. The two women went to bed and when they woke up they realised he was dead and called emergency services. She said they did not intend to kill him.
In interviews with gardai Pezillo accepted that what was said in the article was largely true, although she felt some of it was exaggerated.
Pezillo has 112 previous convictions including for theft, criminal damage, handling stolen goods and disorderly conduct. Comiskey has 18 previous for intoxication in a public place, possession of stolen property and failure to appear in court.
Both women wrote letters to the court expressing their remorse for the killing. Michael Bowman SC for Pezillo said that she had drunk four bottles of vodka and taken tablets and that when they put the bags over the deceased's head their intention was to frighten, not kill.
His client started taking drugs aged 13 and was living rough by the age of 18. He pointed out that State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy had said that deaths by suffocation from plastic bags leave no trace.
Therefore the statements made by Pezillo were of critical importance to the prosecution. Professor Cassidy's report stated that the cause of death was "undetermined".
In her letter Pezillo said she feels remorse, sorrow and shame for what she did and if she could swap places with Ian, she would.
Tara Burns SC for Comiskey told the court that her client had a very good family and had opportunities but took a wrong track in her teens, began drinking and quickly moved on to tablets and then heroin. Her mother wrote to the court to describe the difficulties the family suffered because of her poor behaviour and drug taking.
However, she has made improvements in prison and has undergone a dramatic improvement in her outlook on life. In her letter to the court she said she wanted to express her remorse to the Quinn family, her own family and to the gardai. She said that she met Ian at a bus stop on O'Connell Street when she was 18 and loved him ever since.
They had their ups and downs with drugs and living on the streets and she would never have done anything to harm him no purpose. "We went through everything together," she wrote.
Telling the court she is sorry for what happened, she added that she was in court to face the consequences of her actions. She wishes she had quit drink and drugs earlier.
Justice McCarthy remanded both women in custody until May 14 when he will deliver their sentences.