Man pleads not guilty to murder of prostitute

State claims former soldier killed woman in a bog four years ago because she was blackmailing him

Man pleads not guilty to murder of prostitute

The trial of a retired member of the defence forces accused of murdering a woman in Co Westmeath four years ago has heard that he told a man he had killed her.

Jimmy Devaney, aged 66, of Millbrook Avenue, Monksland, Athlone, has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Marie Greene in Westmeath on February 13, 2011.

The court has heard Ms Greene, who was working as a prostitute, was last seen alive on February 13 and her body was found in a bog near Ballykieran outside Athlone nine days later.

The trial has heard the accused had been playing cards in a casino in Athlone that night but left and returned later that evening.

Alan Kavanagh, who owned the Lighthouse Casino in Custume Barracks, told the court Mr Devaney was the first into the club that night. He said the accused had told him a woman was blackmailing him and said that he had killed her because she might tell his wife and children.

Mr Kavanagh testified that the accused told him who he had killed and that it had happened in a bog.

He told the court he had a CCTV system in the club and the accused asked him if he could get rid of the cameras. He said he did not think Mr Devaney understood much about CCTV.

“He just said that the girl was blackmailing him, she was driving him mad or whatever and he said she was going to tell his wife,” said Mr Kavanagh.

He said he was not aware that Ms Greene was missing at that point. Mr Kavanagh agreed with Giollaiosa Ó Lideadha, defending, that he gave a statement to gardaí that when Mr Devaney returned to the club there was a bit of what looked like blood on his shirt. His hands were also shaking.

The deceased’s sister, Julie Greene, told the court that at 8pm on the day in question, Marie got a phone call. She said her sister told the person on the phone: “I’m coming now.”

Ms Greene said she rang her sister at 4am but got no answer.

She said she knew her sister went with men in cars for money but it was unusual for her not to return. She agreed with Mr Ó Lideadha she knew her sister would get a number of calls from men.

Another sister, Teresa Greene, gave evidence that she had a number of conversations with the deceased on the day she went missing and she was in good form.

The deceased’s mother, Winnie Greene, said she lived with daughters Julie and Marie in St Mel’s Terrace. She said her daughter got a call between 8pm and 9pm and told the caller: “I’m coming now,” but said she did not know where she was going. She said she got two phonecalls the same evening and said: “I’ve never seen her in better form.”

Mrs Greene said her daughter went out after the second phone call and never came back. She said she got a bad feeling something was wrong and she asked Julie to keep ringing Marie.

Tony Connaughton gave evidence that he knew Mr Devaney six or seven years and both had an interest in poker. He said Mr Devaney asked him a couple of days before where he could get a couple of thousand euro and said he needed it for his daughter. “He was anxious that he wanted it soon”. He said he heard at a later date Mr Devaney got the money.

Alex Owens, prosecuting, said it was the State’s case the accused murdered Ms Greene on February 13 some time after 8pm at Annagorta bog in Ballykieran outside Athlone.

Counsel said Ms Greene was murdered by Mr Devaney because she was blackmailing him.

The trial continues today before Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan.

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