Members of Ms Cawley’s family wept in the crowded courtroom as deputy state pathologist Dr Michael Curtis suggested the absence of brain injury to the dead woman meant her life could have been saved if she had received prompt medical attention.
Dr Curtis told the Central Criminal Court yesterday that the 46-year-old company director had died mainly due to three blows to the head which were the result of blunt force trauma as well as suffocation caused by the position in which her body was lying on the ground. He claimed contributory factors were obesity and Ms Cawley’s enlarged heart.
The medical expert claimed the dead woman’s injuries were consistent with the first blow having knocked her to the ground and receiving two more blows when she was lying face down on the ground.
Challenged on these findings by defence counsel Brendan Grehan SC, Dr Curtis said they were based on information he received from gardaí that Ms Cawley’s body had been found lying face down.
“I don’t think she sustained the three wounds from a single fall and I don’t think she fell three times,” said Dr Curtis.
The pathologist said an account given by Lillis about how Ms Cawley had slipped and fell on the decking area, hitting her head off a brick, did not “in any way satisfactorily account for the injuries on the deceased”.
Lillis, aged 52, has pleaded not guilty to his wife’s murder at the family home at Rowan Hill, Windgate Road, Howth, on December 15, 2008.
In earlier evidence, the couple’s only daughter said she forgave her father for the row that led to her mother’s death but not for the story which he had made up about a burglary at their home.
The teenager, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, gave evidence via videolink as she recalled what her father told her about the events which resulted in Ms Cawley’s death.
“He just told me what had happened between him and Mum. I can’t exactly remember what he said word for word. It was just the world’s worst Christmas for me,” she added.
Ms Lillis explained how her father had claimed there had been a robbery at the house because he had panicked and didn’t know what to do. He also claimed he had made up the story for her sake.
The trial continues today before a jury of six men and six women.