Eamonn Lillis told the woman he was seeing before his wife died that she banged her head during a row they had over his not taking out the rubbish, she told his murder trial.
Jean Treacy (aged 32) was giving evidence to The Central Criminal Court on the sixth day of Mr Lillis’ trial for the alleged murder on December 15, 2008.
The 52-year-old TV advert producer has pleaded not guilty to murdering Celine Cawley at their home, Rowan Hill, Windgate Road, Howth while their daughter was at school.
The 46-year-old died of head injuries after Mr Lillis said he found an intruder attacking her on their patio. He last week admitted that there was no intruder.
Ms Treacy, a beauty therapist, said Celine Cawley introduced her husband to her, referring him for massage. They were weekly clients of hers at Howth Haven Salon for about two years before the affair began. She gave Mr Lillis deep tissue massage mainly on his back.
“He spoke about his dogs quite a lot,” she told Mary Ellen Ring SC, prosecuting. “I said I’d love to see a picture of them.”
She said that one evening after a treatment, she sat in the front seat of his car with the door opened to look at a picture of them on his iPod.
“The rapport between us was quite different that day. I noticed his hands were really nice for a man’s,” she said.
“The next week he was mentioning that the muscles on the front of his shoulders were quite sore,” she said. “I turned him around. Normally people close their eyes when you turn them around, but he didn’t.”
Instead he stared and smiled at her, she said.
“He was permanently staring at me to the point where I was almost uncomfortable,” she said. “I asked him what he was thinking. He just kept staring and smiling.”
She said he then asked her what she was thinking.
“I put his fingers on my pulse and my pulse was racing and I said: ‘That’s what I’m thinking’ and I walked out of the room,” she recalled. She later said they were both somewhat embarrassed.
She said that there was a different atmosphere between them the following week, about eight weeks before Ms Cawley’s death. This is when their affair began.
She said she met him almost every day and they communicated by phone and text, with him buying her a second phone to be used only for him.
She said that as far as she knew Ms Cawley did not know of the affair and that she and Mr Lillis did not initially discuss his marriage. She said she would not have known that they were having problems until he told her he was unhappy in his marriage about four or five weeks before his wife’s death.
“As an outsider you wouldn’t know anything was wrong between them. They looked very good together,” she said.
“He told her he was unhappy one morning,” she said, explaining that Ms Cawley then told him to make a list of anything he was unhappy with and that they’d work on it.
Ms Treacy and Mr Lillis referred to this as a resolution list, she said.
When asked if she wanted their marriage to end, she replied. “No I didn’t. Never.”
“At the time I thought I had fallen in love with him but now I realise it was more infatuation that came and went,” she said. “I was surprised.”
She explained that she saw Mr Lillis most Mondays, with him texting her in the morning first.
However she said that she heard nothing from him on the Monday morning that Ms Cawley died.
“I had sent a text at 10 asking him to bring the ML jeep, not from a seedy or sordid point of view, but just that when we were sitting in the front seat it would be more comfortable,” she said. “The windows are tinted so you’re not looking over your shoulder.”
She said she was concerned when she heard nothing from him.
“Normally I would have heard from him,” she said.
She said that it was not until 6.40pm when her then boss phoned her that she heard what happened. She sent Mr Lillis a text offering her support.
“At that point I was 100% convinced there had been a burglary,” she explained. “I got a text back saying: ‘It gives me great strength that you’re thinking of me’.”
There were no calls between them but more messages including one in which he mentioned his ‘horrifying day, a day from hell’.
She suggested he give his daughter a hug and tell her everything would be OK. She finally suggested they drop all contact for a while.
“I sent one saying he didn’t need me in the picture confusing the situation,” she said. He replied that she was probably right. “He said he would be back in the house in a few days and would probably see me that Friday for a massage, that he’d probably need one by that stage.”
However she said that by Friday she had taken leave from work and the salon rang him to re-arrange the appointment.
Ms Treacy said that she next heard from the defendant about a week into January, following his release from custody after being charged.
“He left a voicemail asking me to call the house phone. I got a number of calls that day but I didn’t answer any of them,” she said. “He called to the house twice the next day. He didn’t knock. He just did a u-turn in the drive.”
She said there was no more contact until she phoned him in mid February and met him three times over the following month by which time she had started a new job in Inchicore.
She said she did not want to know anything about the death, but that he insisted on telling her.
“He basically said that Celine asked him to take out the rubbish and he forgot,” she said. “Seemingly she went mad and hurled abuse. She told him he was a terrible husband, useless.”
The row started in the kitchen but Ms Cawley went out onto the patio, he told her.
“He said the ground was wet and she fell. He made an analogy to a beach ball, the way she bounced back up,” she said. “He said she went mad, that she was so annoyed and was shouting at him.”
He said the couple said disgusting things to each other, there was a scuffle and he had her pinned up against glass, she told the court.
“He said they both slipped and ended up on the ground,” she said, explaining that the scuffle continued there, with Ms Cawley ‘in a rage’ and going ‘berserk’.
“She started biting his finger,” she said, adding that he described the pain as incredible. “He said he felt as though she was going to bite it off.”
He said he asked her to stop but she would not let go so he ‘gently pushed her forehead’ away with the heel of his hand, she continued.
“All of a sudden a pool of blood appeared under her head,” she said.
She said he told her that his wife slipped in and out of consciousness a few times and spoke at one stage.
“She came back. He asked her was she OK,” she said. “She said she was.”
He said they had cuts and bruises, Ms Cawley asked what they had do and they agreed to tell their daughter that there had been a burglar, she testified.
“I asked where did the brick come from,” she said, explaining that she had read about it in a newspaper. “He said there must have been one under her head when he pushed her forehead.”
Ms Treacy asked him why he did not hold up his hands and tell gardaí the truth. He told her that he panicked and lied, she said.
“He said he didn’t know how to go back on it. I said he should have told the truth,” she said, explaining that he told her that his solicitor had told him not to say anything.
“I asked about the suitcase,“ she said, explaining that she also read about this being found full of bloody clothes.
“He said he had to make it look like a burglary for (his daughter’s) sake,” she said.
She then asked him if he missed his wife.
“He said he did,” she said. “He wasn’t overcome with grief. He often found himself with the light on in her room, lying on her bed. He said that he’d go to talk to her and realise she wasn’t there.”
They met one more time after this conversation before she cut off contact in March.
On May 26, she arrived at her new job in Inchicore and was given an envelope by her boss. There was a three-page letter and a package inside.
“It was the second letter I’d received. There was a package wrapped in white ribbon and white wrapping paper with the words of Beyonce’s Halo printed on it,” she said “It was a Tiffany pendant with diamonds. I took it straight to the gardaí.”
Ms Treacy agreed with Brendan Grehan SC, defending, that she had ‘plans’ about which she was jittery when she began the affair and that she told a colleague that she was attracted to Mr Lillis.
She agreed that she thought he was refined and gentle, ‘a bit of a dreamer and someone who wouldn’t hurt a fly’.
She agreed that she was with him in his ML jeep once when his wife phoned.
“The tone was particularly bad from Celine’s side. She was wondering where he was. She said she needed the jeep for her back and to bring (their daughter) horse-riding and to get home now,” she said. “She spoke to him badly but he spoke normally back to her, whether he was embarrassed or what.”
Ms Treacy agreed that following Ms Cawley’s death she found herself in the middle of a nightmare, could no longer work at Howth Haven and went through a bad few months.
“I had a good few drinks on me,” she said of the night she contacted Mr Lillis in mid February.
“It’s not that I wanted to ask him outright what happened. It was more-so that to find myself in such a nightmare I couldn’t understand that I’d made such a bad character judgement. How could I get it so wrong? I wanted to get a sense of him, to see if I missed something. I wanted to get closure.”
Mr Grehan asked her why she waited two months to tell gardaí of his client’s story about the row.
“I thought through lack of contact he’d realise I didn’t want anything to do with him and it was only when it became problematic that I contacted gardaí,” she said.
She agreed that two of the defendant’s fingers were still bandaged when she saw him in the spring, but couldn’t remember him saying anything about hurting them when trying to take the brick from his wife. She also did not recall him telling her that Ms Cawley had swung at him with a brick.
Mr Grehan put it to her that she recalled these details in her statement, and replied that there were a lot of things she didn’t remember now.
“I remember lying in bed that night trying to piece it together,” she said. “I was under such pressure and trying to take in everything. I can remember everything up to the 15th of December but everything seemed blurry after that.”
The trial continues before Mr Justice Barry White and a jury of six women and six men.