Student saw 'distressed' man on floor 'covered in blood', Cork murder trial told

Another witness described helping a woman to lift a man and helping them to get a taxi
Student saw 'distressed' man on floor 'covered in blood', Cork murder trial told

Helen Jones (pictured) has pleaded not guilty to the charge of murdering Paul Jones – her 52-year-old brother at his home.

An eyewitness in the Cork murder heard a woman saying to the man lying covered in blood in the hallway of the house on Bandon Road, “That is what you get, you got off light”. Emily O’Sullivan, a student, was returning home after a walk around The Lough when she saw a man outside a bungalow on Bandon Road.

“I think he had a hand up to his face and his hand up to the wall. He was very distressed. As I walked closer there was a woman inside the door having a mumbling conversation… to the body on the ground.

“I thought it was some sort of family dispute… On the floor right inside the front door there was a very large man with his feet towards the door, on his side. I only looked for a second but it was covered in blood. He was lying lengthways in the hall.

All I remember was blood – it was just everywhere. The woman looked very casual, like she was at home after getting out of bed or something. She was mumbling at the man on the ground.

“I cannot remember exactly what she said but it was to the effect, ‘That is what you get’. I think she said something along the lines of, ‘You got off light,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

Prosecution senior counsel Siobhán Lankford asked: “Did you hear that more than once?” The witness replied: “I think so.” “Was the man saying anything?” she asked. The witness replied: “He was mumbling like he was annoyed.” 

“Was there any sound from the man on the ground – the body?” she asked. Ms O’Sullivan replied: “No.” Defence senior counsel, Brendan Grehan, put it to the witness: “You thought it was someone who got a bit of a battering?” The witness agreed.

Mr Grehan reminded the witness that in her statement to gardaí she said the woman who said “that is what you get, you got off light”, was speaking like a mother scolding a child, like a disappointed mother addressing a child but not aggressive, it did not sound like the woman thought the man was dead or anything like that. Ms O’Sullivan agreed that she had described it like that.

Tom Creed, defence senior counsel, said the man the witness saw outside the house was distressed and saying things like, “Ah Jesus”. 

Lecturer testimony

Birgit Greiner-Bohlan, a senior lecturer in UCC, was walking home through MacCurtain Villas when she saw a man and a woman – the man lying on the ground, conscious and moving.

“The conversation between them I would describe as loud and agitated. When I approached, they stopped,” Ms Greiner-Bohlan said.

The witness asked the woman if the man was OK and she replied, “He is fine,” and as she said this she tried to help him up.

“She had blood on her face, like a streak on her temple, I think it was the left side. She helped him up. We crossed the street to place him on a wall. He was hardly able to walk. He could only walk with assistance. I asked the man had he too much to drink. I did not get the answer. He had slurred speech and a heavy accent and I am not a native Irish person. I could not understand the answer,” the witness said.

After some efforts to call a taxi she flagged one down for them. She described the demeanour of the man and the woman as agitated and incoherent.

Taxi-driver testimony

Taxi-driver, Daniel Chidi-Ibe, drove the man and woman to Mayfield. He described the man as “looking very down, like someone who does not have enough energy. To get in the car it took him much longer. I noticed blood on his trousers. I offered to help him. He said, ‘No’. I saw fresh blood on his hand.” 

The driver would have preferred if they had gotten an ambulance but the woman said the man was fine so he decided to drive them home. He asked her what happened to the man who was now sitting in the back seat. He said she replied: “He got bitten.” 

The next day when he went to clean his car he noticed heavy blood staining on the handle of the door and on the rear seat of the car. He also saw blood on the front passenger door handle. He said the previous night the man sat in the back, the woman in the front.

Mr Chidi-Ibe informed gardaí he had cleaned the blood with baby wipes and threw them in his recycle bin, and that gardaí seized these.

Garda Paul Buckley was one of the gardaí who searched the area around MacCurtain Villas and he found a machete or bill-hook stuck in the hedge in the front garden of a house.

Anna Horgan Keeley earlier described raised voices around the front of a house on Bandon Road. “The lady said, ‘stop’, I am not sure who she said it to or what she was referring to, but that is the only word that sticks in my mind.” 

In the trial at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork before Judge Michael McGrath and a jury, Helen Jones, 54, of 27 Cahergal Avenue, Mayfield, Cork, pleaded not guilty to the charge of murdering Paul Jones – her 52-year-old brother at his home - on September 4, 2019, at 108 Bandon Road, Cork.

Her co-accused Keith O’Hara, 43, also of 27 Cahergal Avenue, also pleaded not guilty to the same murder charge.

Each defendant is additionally charged with a different count related to alleged trespass at the same time and place. Helen Jones is charged with trespass to cause serious harm while carrying a knife. Keith O’Hara is charged with trespassing to commit serious harm. The defendants also pleaded not guilty to these charges.

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