Lillis trial hears of violent row over taking out rubbish

EAMONN LILLIS told the woman he was seeing before his wife died that she banged her head during a row they had over his not taking out the rubbish, she told his murder trial.

Jean Treacy, 32, was giving evidence at The Central Criminal Court on the sixth day of Lillis’s trial for the alleged murder on December 15, 2008.

The 52-year-old TV advert producer has pleaded not guilty to murdering Celine Cawley at their home, Rowan Hill, Windgate Road, Howth while their daughter was at school. The 46-year-old died of head injuries after Lillis said he found an intruder attacking her on their patio. He last week admitted there was no intruder.

Ms Treacy, a beauty therapist, said Celine Cawley introduced her husband to her, referring him for massage. They were weekly clients of hers at Howth Haven Salon for about two years before the affair began. She gave Lillis deep tissue massage mainly on his back. “He spoke about his dogs quite a lot,” she told Mary Ellen Ring SC, prosecuting. “I said I’d love to see a picture of them.” She said one evening after a treatment, she sat in the front seat of his car with the door opened to look at a picture of them on his iPod.

“The rapport between us was quite different that day. I noticed his hands were really nice for a man’s,” she said.

“The next week he was mentioning that the muscles on the front of his shoulders were quite sore,” she said.

“I turned him around. Normally people close their eyes when you turn them around, but he didn’t.” Instead he stared and smiled at her, she said.

“He was permanently staring at me to the point where I was almost uncomfortable,” she said. “I asked him what he was thinking. He just kept staring and smiling,” She said he then asked her what she was thinking.

“I put his fingers on my pulse and my pulse was racing and I said: ‘That’s what I’m thinking’ and I walked out of the room,” she recalled. She later said they were both somewhat embarrassed. She said there was a different atmosphere between them the following week, about eight weeks before Ms Cawley’s death. This is when their affair began. She said she met him almost every day and they communicated by phone and text, with him buying her a second phone to be used only for him, and that she thought she loved him but now realises it was an infatuation. She said as far as she knew Ms Cawley didn’t know of the affair and she and Lillis didn’t initially discuss his marriage. She said she would not have known that they were having problems until he told her he was unhappy in his marriage about four or five weeks before his wife’s death.

She explained that she saw Lillis most Mondays, with him texting her in the morning first. However, she said she heard nothing from him on the Monday morning Ms Cawley died.

“I had sent a text at 10 asking him to bring the ML jeep, not from a seedy or sordid point of view, but just that when we were sitting in the front seat it would be more comfortable.” She said she was concerned when she heard nothing from him. She said it wasn’t until 6.40pm when her then boss phoned her that she heard what happened. She sent Lillis a text offering her support. “At that point I was 100% convinced there had been a burglary,” she explained. “I got a text back saying: ‘It gives me great strength that you’re thinking of me’.”

There were no calls between them but more messages, including one in which he mentioned his “horrifying day, a day from hell”. She suggested he give his daughter a hug and tell her everything would be ok. She finally suggested they drop all contact for a while. “I sent one saying he didn’t need me in the picture confusing the situation,” she said. He replied she was probably right. The court heard there were a number of meetings since Ms Cawley’s death. She said during one of the meetings he gave an account of what happened. “He basically said Celine asked him to take out the rubbish and he forgot,” she said. “Seemingly she went mad... She told him he was a terrible husband, useless.”

The row started in the kitchen but Ms Cawley went out onto the patio, he told her. “He said... she fell. He made an analogy to a beach ball, the way she bounced back up,” she said.

“He said she went mad, she was so annoyed and was shouting at him.” He said the couple said disgusting things.

“He said they both slipped and ended up on the ground,” she said. “She started biting his finger,” she said. “He said he felt as though she was going to bite it off.” He said he asked her to stop but she wouldn’t let go so he “gently pushed her forehead” away with the heel of his hand. “All of a sudden a pool of blood appeared under her head,” she said. She said he told her his wife slipped in and out of consciousness. He said they had cuts and bruises, Ms Cawley asked what they’d do and they agreed to tell their daughter there’d been a burglar, she testified.

“I asked where did the brick come from,” she said, explaining she’d read about it in a newspaper. “He said there must have been one under her head when he pushed her forehead.”

“I asked about the suitcase,” she said, explaining that she also read about this being found full of bloody clothes. “He said he had to make it look like a burglary for (his daughter’s) sake.”

In May 2009, Ms Treacy said she received a three-page letter and a Tiffany pendant with diamonds from Lillis in white wrapping paper with the words of Beyonce’s Halo printed on it which was delivered to her new place of work. Ms Treacy agreed following Ms Cawley’s death she found herself in the middle of a nightmare and could no longer work at Howth Haven.

The trial continues.

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