Leitrim Street murder 'made to look like suicide'

A murder-accused used a large knife “like a hammer and chisel” on his victim’s throat, wrists, stomach and thigh after strangling her with an electric cable and robbing her, it was alleged at the Central Criminal court today.

A murder-accused used a large knife “like a hammer and chisel” on his victim’s throat, wrists, stomach and thigh after strangling her with an electric cable and robbing her, it was alleged at the Central Criminal court today.

“He tried again at her throat like a hammer and chisel to cut into the inside” after he had "shoved" a large knife into her right thigh, Mr Thomas Penkert allegedly told detectives in Cork about Mr Brian Walsh, his co-accused.

Mr Walsh allegedly started stabbing Ms Nora Kiely’s throat and wrists to make it look like suicide after she died from strangulation.

He tried to stab her stomach also “but it bounced and he was getting frustrated”, according to Mr Penkert’s statement, read out by Detective Garda Owen O’ Connell.

Det Gda O’Connell was testifying at the trial of two Cork men for the murder of Ms Nora Kiely (aged 46) at her flat on Leitrim St, Cork, on July 15, 2002. Both Mr Penkert (aged 20) and Mr Walsh (aged 24) are pleading not guilty to her murder, but they have admitted robbing her of less than €20 euro in cash and two items of jewellery.

“When the door opened she flew over near the sink,” Mr Penkert allegedly told gardaí the day of his arrest. The deceased had time to shout: “I know who ye are, please stop”, Mr Penkert told detectives.

He described how Mr Walsh threw Ms Kiely face-down onto her bed and held one hand over her mouth with the other around her neck. Mr Penkert alleges Mr Walsh said to him: "She’s hard to kill", and she was kicking out with her legs. He told gardaí that after a while “her legs stopped moving”.

Mr Walsh then robbed her handbag and threw the contents of her bag on top of her as she lay prone on the bed, according to Mr Penkert’s statement. Mr Walsh then took off Ms Kiely’s white jeans, while there was "no response" from her.

“He turned her over and then he was laughing and messing and put up her top and pretended to be riding her. Then she let out a gasp and he got off and turned her over on her front again and pretended to be riding her going ‘oh yeah’, ‘oh yeah’”, Mr Penkert said to Det Gda O’Connell.

Mr Penkert then alleged that Mr Walsh put a cord around her neck, at which point he left the room to retch in a nearby toilet outside the flat. When he returned to the flat, Mr Walsh had snapped the chain off her neck and slid her watch off her wrist.

“He didn’t know she was lying dead. He got a big knife and two from the cupboard, one big, one small” ,Mr Penkert allegedly told detectives.

Det Gda O’Connell then told the court that Mr Penkert told him that Mr Walsh said: "Slit her wrists. Make it look like suicide", before stabbing her body several times.

Detective Sergeant John Quilter told the court Mr Penkert accepted that he made no effort to leave the room or call the gardaí, and when it was put to him that he watched the woman die, he replied: "Yeah. Things got out of hand”.

Earlier, Dr Denise Syndercombe-Court of Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry testified that DNA components on a rectal swab from Ms Kiely’s body “matched those that were found on a blood sample from Brian Walsh, but not Thomas Penkert”.

Dressed in similar dark tracksuits, both men appeared relaxed during today’s proceedings, chatting and chuckling with each other intermittently.

At one stage, the courtroom resounded with the sound of Mr Penkert's snores as he dozed at the back of the courtroom during Dr Syndercombe-Court’s testimony.

The trial continues.

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