A Snapchat message sent by the man who denies murder in Cork was presented to the jury as an exhibit in his trial where he referred days later to ‘murder’ but was asked in reply, “How do you know it’s a murder?”
Keith O’Hara and Helen Jones both deny murdering Paul Jones at his home on Bandon Road on September 4, 2019.
The body of Mr Jones was discovered at the scene on Saturday morning, September 7, 2019. That evening, Keith O’Hara sent a Snapchat text to a relative of the victim.
This Snapchat from Keith O’Hara’s phone stated: “I heard, kid, and it’s hard to believe. I have two brothers murdered and I feel that still. It is very sad, kid.” There is a replying text by Snapchat from the person who received this message and it stated: “How do you know it’s a murder.” This witness who is not identified in coverage of the case testified to confirm that he did receive the first message from Keith O’Hara’s Snapchat and send the second message back to him.
Tom Creed, senior counsel for Keith O’Hara, cross-examined the witness and addressed the question raised by the witness: “On the same day as the Snapchat message, people knew it was a murder.
“On this day – on the Saturday – lots of people knew it was murder. All I am saying is that word was out that (Paul Jones) had been killed as opposed to dying by natural causes. You are saying (to Keith O’Hara), how did you know it was murder? Lots of people knew about it. The word was out and they knew about it even if you did not,” Mr Creed suggested. The witness replied: “Yeah.”
Brendan Grehan, senior counsel for Helen Jones, cross-examined Breda O’Reilly who said of Helen Jones: “She was my best friend – more a sister than a best friend.”
Mr Grehan asked Ms O'Reilly if she had been following coverage of the case and she replied: “Not a single bit.”
Mr Grehan said: “This has been on the news and on TV.” Ms O’Reilly said: “I don’t watch the news. I’ve been constantly watching Netflix all day.” Mr Grehan said: “Or radio?” She replied: “I don’t have a radio. I haven’t heard nothing about the case.” Mr Creed SC did not ask the witness any questions.
Detective Garda Mick O’Halloran gave evidence of the examination of phones belonging to various parties in the case.
The phone belonging to the late Paul Jones was found on the sofa at his home. Det. Garda O’Halloran said: “Quarter to seven outgoing call from Paul Jones’ phone on September 4 (2019) – no more after that going out.” He said there were numerous incoming calls to that phone in the following days.
“The last call he made was at 18.45 (September 4), or sorry, the last call that his handset made,” Det. Garda O’Halloran said.
Another exhibit in the case has been variously referred to as a machete or bill-hook. The owner of Scott’s Tools on North Main Street, Cork, Jeremy Twohig testified that the price sticker showed it had been purchased at his shop and he described it as a bill-hook for clearing overgrowth in a garden.
Brendan Grehan SC showed him a sharpening stone with a Scott’s Tools price tag and Mr Twohig said that item could be used to sharpen the bill-hook, adding that the two items complemented each other.
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.
As a result of two jurors failing to appear during the week the case continues in front of Mr Justice Michael McGrath and a jury of 10. It will resume on Monday, December 6, with the commencement of what will be third week of the trial.
The judge repeated to the jury that they should not discuss the case with anyone, should not conduct any enquiries of their own and should avoid media coverage of the case.