Hayes denied knowing victim

MURDER accused Oliver Hayes denied that he knew Bandon woman Anne Corcoran in reply to a Garda questionnaire circulated in the west Cork town following her disappearance in early 2009.

The Central Criminal Court heard yesterday that Hayes also claimed he had never been in Ms Corcoran’s car and had not seen the vehicle around the street where he lived in Bandon after she had been reported missing from her home at Maulnaskimlehane, Kilbrittain on January 19, 2009.

Evidence was also heard that Hayes’ distinctive walk and his van were similar to those of an unknown figure caught on CCTV footage taking money out of Ms Corcoran’s account at ATM machines in the Bandon area.

Hayes, aged 50, of Clancool Terrace, Bandon, Co Cork has denied the murder of Ms Corcoran on a date between January 19 and January 21, 2009. His plea of guilty to the manslaughter of the 60-year-old widow was not accepted by the DPP. He has also pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and charges of robbery and attempted robbery, which included stealing €3,000 from ATMs using her bank cards over a five-day period.

Garda Tim O’Mahony from Bandon garda station said Hayes described in the questionnaire how he was a self-employed painter who came from Dangan Beg, two miles outside Bandon.

Hayes said he had been living in Clancool Terrace, Bandon for the previous 12 years and had known Ms Corcoran’s late husband, Jerry but did not know where she lived.

He told gardaí that he used to have breakfast with his girlfriend, Josephine Collins, at her home in Ballinspittle. Asked about his movements at the end of January, Hayes said he had gone skiing to St Johann in Austria after taking a flight from Cork to Salzburg on a cheap deal and had learnt about Ms Corcoran’s disappearance from his girlfriend’s sister while they were away on holiday.

Garda O’Mahony said Hayes also noted that his brother worked for a local painter, Denis McCarthy.

The Central Criminal Court heard evidence from witnesses including Mr McCarthy who became concerned at Ms Corcoran’s absence from her home.

Mr McCarthy, who had been carrying out work at the house said he had arrived on January 22, 2009 and found that dog food in the house had been strewn around the kitchen.

The next day he returned and noticed that the dogs were creating a mess in the house. He tried to contact Ms Corcoran by phone.

On January 24, he tried to call her on her mobile and landline numbers but got no reply. He went out to her house and noticed that the dogs had been “doing their business” on the carpet. Mr McCarthy said he found this odd as he knew Ms Corcoran to be “neat and perfect” and had always taken great care of her dogs.

He told the court that he tried and failed to contact Ms Corcoran by phone on January 25 and again on January 26 when he also called out to the house.

On January 27 he returned because he was anxious to have his bill paid in order to pay his own workers and raised his concern about his client with a woman he met near her home who said she would make further inquiries.

The following day, he received a call from a garage owner and friend, Sam Winters who said Ms Corcoran’s car was parked across the road from his business premises.

At that point, Mr McCarthy said he contacted local gardaí.

Mr Winters gave evidence that he knew Ms Corcoran as she used to get her late husband’s green Peugeot 206 serviced at his garage. He told the court he noticed the vehicle parked opposite his garage on Sunday, January 25. Mr Winters said he was getting concerned by January 28 when the car was still in the same location. Around the same time, he got a call from Mr McCarthy which resulted in gardaí being alerted about Ms Corcoran.

Elizabeth Lucey, a friend of Ms Corcoran since they worked together in a local factory over 20 years previously, described her as “a well dressed, very careful woman” and “an immaculate housekeeper”.

Ms Lucey said her friend had always placed her dogs, who she treated like they were her children, in kennels when she was away from home.

She said Ms Corcoran was a regular visitor to Knock and had been on holiday in Prague and Wales in 2008.

She told the court she contacted gardaí about her concern for Ms Corcoran on January 28, 2009 after she had failed to return her calls over a number of days.

Inspector Joe Moore of Bandon garda station, said forensic tests had matched blood samples found in the victim’s car with Ms Corcoran’s DNA.

Detective Sergeant Feargal Foley said he was satisfied that Ms Corcoran had no intention of leaving the country or going on holiday and that she was “not of unsound mind” or suffering any illness.

He claimed other witnesses had revealed that her car was seen parked at Bandon Bridge National School about 60 yards from Hayes’ home between January 20 and January 24, 2009. People had provide other information which placed the car outside a garage in Bandon from midday at January 24 until it was located by gardaí in the same place on January 28.

Det Sgt Foley obtained a warrant on February 4, 2009, to search Hayes’ home on the basis that the accused had murdered Ms Corcoran at an unknown location.

Patsy Lynch, a resident of Clancool Court, said he had noticed a vehicle matching the description given had been parked across from his driveway between January 20 and January 24.

The trial resumes on Monday.

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