A son, whose mother’s dismembered remains were found scattered at nine different locations in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains, has told the Central Criminal Court that "the revelation of how my mother was murdered, the brutality of the act, the cold-hearted way in which she was dismembered, the disgusting way it was covered up and then to find out who was involved will stay with me for the rest of my life".
Patricia O'Connor's siblings also told the court in a second victim impact statement that they are "still in disbelief" over their sister's "cruel and brutal" murder and were sickened at the involvement of her immediate family.
A 35-year-old man was sentenced today to life in prison for murdering the retired grandmother over three years ago. Father-of-three Kieran Greene was found guilty last February by a Central Criminal Court jury of inflicting "catastrophic injuries" on Patricia O'Connor (61) in a sustained attack in the bathroom of her Rathfarnham home. Greene had his sentence adjourned on April 20 until today in light of the Covid-19 restrictions.
Four other defendants - Louise O'Connor (41), Stephanie O'Connor (22), Keith Johnston (43) and Augustine 'Gus' O’Connor (76) - were also present in court today for their sentence hearings after also having them adjourned last April.
The deceased's daughter Louise O'Connor, her granddaughter Stephanie O'Connor and Keith Johnston were each found guilty in February of impeding the apprehension or prosecution of Greene, knowing or believing him to have murdered Mrs O'Connor on May 29, 2017.
Patricia's husband Augustine 'Gus' O’Connor was originally part of the trial but shortly before it began in January, he pleaded guilty to reporting his wife as a missing person to gardaí at Rathfarnham Garda Station, Dublin 14 on June 1, 2017, knowing she was already dead.
The Central Criminal Court heard two victim impact statements today from Mrs O'Connor's sister and son.
In an emotional victim impact statement, the deceased's son Richard O'Connor began by saying: "Devastated, heartbroken and deceived, there are only a few words to describe how I've felt about the murder of my mum since the 29th May 2017."
"My ability to have trust in people has changed. To process the amount of lies told to me by those who were my close family has led to many sleepless nights. The constant questions I ask myself, could I have prevented this? Why didn't I see the deceit around me? How could people I called family do such an unspeakable act?"
"The revelation of how my mother was murdered, the brutality of the act, the cold-hearted way in which she was dismembered, the disgusting way it was covered up and then to find out who was involved will stay with me for the rest of my life. The memories of my childhood home destroyed and the anxiety I felt entering the house again after I found out what had happened till and probably will always affect me. No son should ever have to hear how his mam's life ended in such a brutal and horrific way."
"Throughout the trial my mam was portrayed in such a despicable way, trying to make out that she was a horrible person which I, her family and friends knew she was not. I have been contacted by people who used to work with my mam and they have told me how they were horrified at the lies told about her."
"My mam was only 61, she was healthy and full of life. To have her taken away from me so cruelly when she had so much life left to live has left me totally devastated. My mam was a kind, caring and loving person, always willing to help with anything. I think about her all of the time her love of gardening, art, baking and nature and how she can't continue to pass on her love and knowledge of this to my children. My children have lost their nana far too early, not due to ill health but due to the disgusting acts and lies of others. My mam had plans for the future. She wanted to have the house done up when both her and my dad had the house to themselves.
"We had spoken about her coming on holidays with my family on but that was not meant to be. My mam had wanted to take a class, learn a new skill but instead she found herself drained financially unable to focus on what she wanted or needed."
"I ask myself why do parents feel obliged to help their adult children even though it causes tension and distress. Why did my mam have to die due to the utter selfishness and laziness of others?"
"I think about my mam's funeral and this upsets me beyond belief. There were some people there that shouldn't have been, quietly moving through the funeral saying horrible things about my mam, trying to disgrace her name even at her funeral, it's just unbelievable. I plan on honouring my mam properly with those who loved her once this is all over."
"I put all of my trust in the Gardai, the DPP, the courts and ultimately the jury, who I hoped could find the truth in all of this. I have now come to the conclusion that I will never know the full truth. I thank everyone involved in getting justice for my mam for their excellent work and sacrifice. I thank the families, army and Gardai who found my mam, a horror I wouldn't wish on anyone."
"I think of the impact on the innocent people involved, my family, my children, my other nieces and nephews."
"I'm at a loss to understand why after my mam's murder they tried to destroy her character, photographs in the house were destroyed, trying to erase her memory. I now hold dear the photographs I have of my mam. Throughout the trial and even now no compassion, no care, no real emotion, no remorse has been shown or spoke of by those involved."
"I never got to say goodbye to my mam, never got to see her face one last time. That was taken from me and I will never forgive any of them for that. I hope that the sentencing given reflects the part each person had in this terrible crime, not only the actual act but the callous way in which it was covered up," he concluded.
A second victim impact statement was read to the court by Mrs O'Connor's sister, Collette Barry, on behalf of her brothers and sisters. Ms Barry said the sisters and brothers of Mrs O'Connor are "still in disbelief of her cruel and brutal murder. We were all sickened to find out who was involved in her murder".
She added: "The lies that were told, the cruel cover-up of her murder; it has been shocking and utterly disgusting to sit through out the seven week trial to see all of their faces with no emotion of any kind."
Finally, she said: "We were deeply hurt by how Patricia's character was so cruelly tarnished by their spiteful lies. The people who truly knew her, her sisters, brothers, friends, work colleagues, her neighbours, will defend her kind, caring, loving nature, a jolly woman who sang out loud as she went about her day. They can never take those previous memories away from us. We are still trying to come to terms with the brutal and violent way her life came to a very sad end. Trisha we love you always."
Following this, Michael P O'Higgins SC, for Augustine O'Connor, asked Richard O'Connor to indicate to the court what effect his father's participation in the deception had on him. "My father lost everything due to the person he is. He has nothing left, everything is gone, 40 years of living in Churchtown, all gone. His whole life he tried to build himself as a certain type of man and even that is gone," he replied.
After hearing the two statements this afternoon, Mr Justice Paul McDermott sentenced Greene to the mandatory term of life imprisonment for murder. The sentence was backdated to June 15 2017, when he went into custody.
The judge said he has been given a great deal to consider and he would sentence the four other defendants this Friday. They were each remanded on continuing bail.
Greene had pleaded not guilty to murdering the retired hospital worker at her home in Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 on May 29 2017.
The jury accepted the prosecution's case that Greene bludgeoned the retired hospital worker to death with a hurley and that his claim of self-defence "did not hold any water". They rejected Greene's claim that Mrs O'Connor's husband, Augustine 'Gus' O'Connor, had killed his wife using a crowbar and he [Greene] had taken the blame.
It was the State's contention that there was no evidence of a single defensive wound on Mrs O'Connor's body and Greene bore an "ill-will" and "a particular animus or bad feeling" against the deceased.
The seven-week trial heard that the body of Mrs O’Connor was dismembered into 15 separate parts that were found at nine different locations over a 30km range in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains between June 10 and 14, 2017.
Former Deputy State Pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis, gave evidence in the trial that Mrs O'Connor's head was struck a minimum of three blows with a solid implement and the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.
Mother-of-five Louise O'Connor, of Millmount Court, Dundrum Road, Dublin 14 was found guilty of agreeing to or acquiescing in her daughter Stephanie O'Connor disguising herself as Patricia O'Connor at Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 on May 29, 2017 in order to conceal the fact that Patricia O'Connor was dead.
Stephanie O'Connor also of Millmount Court, Dundrum Road, Dublin 14 was found guilty of disguising herself as Patricia O'Connor at Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 at a point in time after her murder on May 29, 2017 in order to conceal the fact that she was already dead.
Johnston of Avonbeg Gardens, Tallaght, Dublin 24 was found guilty of assisting Greene in the purchase of various implements at Woodie's, Mr Price, B&amp;Q and Shoe Zone, Tallaght, Dublin 24 on June 9, 2017, which were to be used in the concealment of the remains of Mrs O'Connor. The handyman is the ex-partner of the deceased's daughter, Louise O'Connor, and is father to two of her five children including Stephanie O'Connor.
Greene had given two accounts of Mrs O'Connor's death. In an interview with gardaí in June 2017, Greene said he was in the bathroom when Mrs O’Connor attacked him with a hurley.
He maintained that he had disarmed Mrs O'Connor and acted in self-defence by hitting her with a hurley and as a result of that she may have died. He claimed he was the only one involved in the physical altercation and had acted alone in removing her body from the house, burying her in a shallow grave in Co Wexford and subsequently dismembering her.
The trial heard that six months after he was charged with her murder, Greene changed his account of killing and dismembering his partner's mother. While on remand in Cloverhill Prison in December 2017, Greene told gardaí that he had taken “the rap” and felt he was being set-up, as his girlfriend Louise O'Connor subsequently started going back out with her ex-boyfriend Keith Johnston.
In his December interview Greene claimed that, although there was an altercation, he was not responsible for Mrs O'Connor's death, that her husband Augustine 'Gus' O'Connor had killed her with a crowbar and that other family members had been involved.
At today's sentence hearing Detective Inspector Brian O'Keeffe summarised the facts of the case.
Det Insp O'Keeffe told prosecuting counsel Roisin Lacey SC that Augustine O'Connor had been interviewed on four occasions between September 2 and 3, 2017. Initially, Mr O'Connor told gardaí in his interviews that everyone got on very well in the house, there had rarely been an argument, it was a happy home and he loved his wife, said the witness. Mr O'Connor said he did not know what to think about what happened that night but thought his wife would come home.
He went on to tell gardaí that he was out walking the dog on the night of May 29 and when he got home he was told that Mrs O'Connor had left the house in a "rotten humour" and his daughter Louise said she had "stormed off". He said he went to bed and slept until 9am the following morning. Det Insp O'Keefe said an examination of CCTV footage showed that what Mr O'Connor said was not correct as he was seen in the back garden on a number of occasions up until 12.45am. Mr O'Connor continued to tell gardaí in his interviews that he could "throw little light" on what happened to his wife and was not covering anything up for anyone.
However, Mr O'Connor said in later interviews that it was not a happy house and he had lied about what happened to his wife to protect the children. He denied any involvement in his wife's murder and said that his wife was dead when he returned to the house on the night of May 29. He wanted to ring gardaí but others begged him not to. He admitted to seeing his wife's body "wrapped up" in the sitting room. He told gardaí he was "as bad as the rest of them" but said he did not lay a finger on her. "He said he washed his hands of it, went to bed and told them to ring gardaí. He said he did not know if they cut up the body and not much was said the next day," said Ms Lacey. Mr O'Connor later told gardaí that the reason he went with his son Richard to report his wife as a missing person to gardaí at Rathfarnham Garda Station was because he thought she would be found in a day or two.
Mr O'Connor agreed to make a voluntary statement to gardaí in which he said that his granddaughter Stephanie O'Connor woke him up that night and asked him to come downstairs. He said he saw something big wrapped up on the floor and was told it was his wife and she had been attacked by Greene in the bathroom. Mr O'Connor said he went upstairs and when he came back down they had removed the body and disposed of it. He told gardaí that he was aware Greene had left the house with his wife's body in the car. He further told detectives that he would get what he deserved and he loved his wife. He said he deserved "a slap across the face" for not going to gardaí.
Det Insp O'Keefe said that Greene had one previous conviction for a road traffic matter and none of the other defendants had any previous convictions.
In mitigation, Conor Devally SC, for Greene, said his client had a severe vulnerability through his schooling and adult life and, apart from the murder, he had led a blameless life.
Michael P O'Higgins, for Augustine O'Connor, asked the court to be as lenient as possible on his client and said it was not in the public interest to send him to jail. He said Mr O'Connor told psychologists that he was taken advantage of by his demanding daughter Louise and it appeared from the psychologists report that Patricia O'Connor and his client were "victims of elder abuse". The court heard Louise controlled the household and used her parents credit card to pay bills. He said his client made a gross error of judgment by not contacting gardaí and got caught up in a horrific experience on the night which was not of his making.
In his submissions, the barrister said that his client appears to be a highly suggestive individual but he loved his wife although the relationship became strained. He had also suffered the injustice of being wrongfully accused of killing his wife.
Michael Bowman SC, for Louise O'Connor, said she had five children from aged six to 22 and testimonials had described her as a wonderful mother. He said she accepted the outcome of the court and had not pleaded guilty as she could have lost her accommodation. He said she was genuinely distraught by the death of her mother and the part she played and offered an unreserved apology for her actions.
Garnet Orange SC, for Stephanie O'Connor, pointed out that she was just 19 years of age when these events occurred and testimonials described her as a wonderful young woman. She accepted the verdict of the jury, he said.
James Dwyer SC, for Johnston, said his client did not accept his participation in the offence and asked the court to impose as lenient a sentence as possible.
Patricia O’Connor’s former work colleague said convicted murderer Kieran Greene “deserves every bit he was given” after he was given the mandatory life sentence today.
Sandra Flynn, Josie Dunne, Kim Birmingham, and Breda Wosser, who worked at the Beaumont Hospital with Patricia, brought a montage of photographs of their friend to court today to give to her family.
Ms Flynn, speaking outside court today said: “I worked with Patricia for 32 years.
“She was a lovely person. She wasn’t the person they said she was - she was a really great person.
“We brought these photographs of Patricia with her family and friends at work to give to her family today”.
Ms Flynn, speaking about Kieran Greene, who was convicted of murder and given the mandatory life sentence today , said: “He deserves every bit he was given”.