The murder trial of Eamonn Lillis at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin yesterday heard dramatic evidence from a young beauty therapist with whom he was having an extra-marital affair at the time. Jean Treacy, 32, said Lillis had insisted on giving her an explanation sometime around February last year – several months after the death of his wife, Celine Cawley.
The 52-year-old businessman has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Ms Cawley, 46, at their family home at Rowan Hill, Windgate Road, Howth, on December 15, 2008.
Ms Treacy said Lillis had informed her his wife had gone mad and hurled abuse at him as a row developed over his failure to put out rubbish as requested. It was claimed Ms Cawley had branded him a terrible and useless husband and the row moved out on to the patio outside the house where Ms Cawley slipped and fell on a decking area before bouncing back up “like a beach ball”. Ms Treacy recalled how Lillis said the exchange was disgusting and they ended up in a scuffle which left both of them with cuts.
He explained he had “gently pushed her forehead” with the heel of his hand to prevent her from biting his finger. The court heard Lillis remembered how “all of a sudden a pool of blood appeared” from under his wife’s head. Ms Treacy said the couple had decided to tell their daughter they had been burgled in order to explain the wounds. She recalled asking Lillis why he hadn’t told the truth to gardaí and he said he had panicked and his solicitor told him not to. Ms Treacy admitted she had described Lillis to gardaí as a “refined, gentle, a bit of a dreamer and someone who wouldn’t hurt a fly”.
The brunette gave evidence of how her affair with Lillis began about eight weeks before Ms Cawley’s death when he was a client of the Howth Haven beauty salon where she worked. Asked if she had fallen in love with the accused, Ms Treacy replied: “At the time I thought I had but now I realise that it was more an infatuation than anything.”
Meanwhile, a controversy erupted when Ms Treacy was allowed to use an underground entrance to the Criminal Courts of Justice to avoid photographers.