Eamonn Lillis has denied that he felt trapped in his marriage to Celine Cawley, whom he is accused of murdering at their home on December 15, 2008.
The 52-year-old TV advert producer was being cross-examined by the prosecution on the 10th day of his trial for the alleged murder at Rowan Hill, Windgate Road, Howth.
Mr Lillis has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering the 46-year-old while their teenaged daughter was at school.
Mr Lillis initially blamed an intruder for her three fatal head injuries but now admits that there was no intruder.
On Friday he told the court that he and his wife had a physical fight that morning and afterwards agreed that in order to explain their injuries they would tell their daughter that they had disturbed a burglar.
He said that when his wife fell unconscious he kept up this pretence for the ambulance staff and gardaí, not expecting her injuries to be serious. When she died he felt trapped by the lie, he said.
“Were you feeling trapped on December 15 because of the lies or because of a new opportunity in life with Ms Treacy?” asked Mary Ellen Ring SC today, referring to Jean Treacy, with whom he was having an affair at the time.
“It was never a possibility that anything would happen,” he said.
“Are you sure?” she asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
Ms Ring reminded him that the jury would have a note found by gardaí in which he wrote:
“She will get that wedding dress.
She will marry Keith next June.
She will send out invites in January.
You will never be with her properly.
The only way you’ll be with her is to live here.
Think of the positives in developing a new relationship.
You will never take her to France.
She will never share your bed.
You are running out of time!!!”
He agreed that Ms Treacy was due to get married in June and that her fiancé’s name was Keith. He agreed that he was referring to her in the first few lines of the note.
However when she questioned him about the fifth line: “The only way you’ll be with her is to live here,” he said the entire note did not refer to his affair.
He agreed that he had a house in France but said the line referring to France was not about Ms Treacy.
“It doesn’t refer to our situation,” he said when asked about the final line.
“It was something I was working on with my sister,” he said, adding that he could back this up with notes.
He explained that he had been shooting an ad for Irish Permanent once when some people asked if he was filming a reconstruction for 'Crimeline'.
He said he thought this was funny and considered that criminals could be robbing a bank but, if they had cameras, people could think they were filming a reconstruction.
He thought this would be a good idea for a story. He woke up one night in November, wrote his ideas in a notebook and tore out the pages, he claimed.
“I was going to take them into the office to work off the notes,” he said, explaining that he was writing about characters in the note, not himself.
Ms Ring asked that if this was so, why he didn’t write in the third person: ‘She’ will never share ‘his’ bed.
“It was four o’clock in the morning,” he replied.
He said the final line referred to two characters. She asked why he did not write ‘they’ instead of ‘you’.
“I wrote you,” he replied.
She asked why he did not write ‘live there’ instead of ‘live here’ if it was a work of fiction.
“I wrote it based on what I was going through,” he said.
“Are you sure you weren’t feeling trapped when you wrote that?” she asked.
“I’d no reason to feel trapped,” he responded.
Mr Lillis had said that one of the injuries to the back of his wife’s head must have been caused from her banging her head against a window edge when he pushed her during the fight. However Ms Ring put it to him that the window edge was vertical and both wounds were horizontal.
“Maybe when she fell then,” he said. “Again I’m not sure if her head struck it or not. Because she screamed I thought she might have (banged her head).”
She asked him how far away from the window Ms Cawley was when he pushed her against it.
“Two paces perhaps,” he said.
She quoted evidence from a forensic scientist, which said that a blood stain found on that window edge was 5¼ feet above the ground.
“Celine Cawley was 5 foot 10,” she said.
“She was actually 5 foot 8,” he argued.
“Dr Curtis said she was 5 foot 10,” she said, referring to the deputy state pathologist post mortem evidence.
“I was married to her and she was 5 foot 8,” insisted the defendant.
Ms Ring quoted from the post mortem report that one of the injuries at the back was ‘full thickness to the bone’, and questioned his not noticing all of the blood until later.
“That’s right, because most of the time her back was to the ground,” he replied. “She was facing me.”
Ms Ring mentioned his use of the word ‘crumpled’ to describe Ms Cawley’s knees during their fall after the struggle at the window.
“Celine’s knees crumpled and she fell down. She fell backwards,” she said, quoting his testimony from Friday.
She pointed out that Dr Michael Curtis had said knees would crumple if an individual was concussed and the person would fall forward.
“I was trying to explain that she didn’t fall straight backwards,” he said. “My weight was on her and she was leaning backwards but her knees gave way first.”
He had explained on Friday that the jeans he hid in the attic were blood-soaked because he rested his injured wife’s head on his lap.
Yesterday he gave the same reason for the jumper he hid being blood-soaked.
“Was her head on your lap or your chest?” she asked.
“On both,” he said.
Ms Ring then put it to him that if he was trying to convince his daughter that there was a burglary in which he and his wife were injured, then why hide his bloodstained clothes.
“Wouldn’t they back up your story?” she asked.
“She didn’t need to seem them,” he said of his daughter. “I was upset.”
He said that he decided to throw them away after deciding that the blood would probably not wash out.
She asked him why he hid them in the attic then, instead of just binning them.
“I’d have to have gone back downstairs,” he said, explaining that the bin was at the side of the house.
She mentioned that he went downstairs anyway.
“I needed to talk to Celine about what happened, what we said to each other,” he said.
She asked if, during his cleanup upstairs, he did not once shout down to his wife to see how she was.
He said that considering her mood and what she had said to him before he left, he thought he shouldn’t.
Ms Ring put to him each of 18 marks to his wife’s face and lips and asked him to explain each. He said some of them might have occurred when he raised her arm while she was holding the brick, causing it to graze her chin.
He said others might have happened when she was biting his finger as they lay on the ground. He said she was twisting her head from side to side and he was pushing her head back to try to release her grip.
“I’m not sure how that happened,” he said several times about the remaining injuries.
“I put it to you that the three injuries on Celine Cawley’s head were occasioned by use of a brick held by you,” she said.
“You lied to the firemen, ambulance staff, gardaí, your family including your daughter, and friends, and continued to lie and concealed the reason for the lie, and you hid your clothes,” she continued, “all because you had taken up a brick and hit her not once, not twice, but three times, causing three lacerations, two to the back of the head and consistent with a brick and not a window edge.”
“These caused the death of Celine Cawley while you were trying to cover up your actions upstairs,” she concluded.
“That’s not true,” replied Mr Lillis.
Mr Justice Barry White and a jury of six women and six men have now heard from all witnesses and the closing stages have been reached in the trial.