herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

EVIL LILLIS OFF TO ENGLAND

release: Killer opts to stay in jail a few hours longer as he plans to flee to UK tomorrow

Wife-Killer Eamonn Lillis is expected to walk free from prison in the next 24 hours after serving a sentence of 1,887 days for the savage killing of his wife.

Lillis (57) is expected to fly out to England tomorrow as soon as he leaves Wheatfield Prison.

In an unprecedented move, it's understood that Lillis refused take up the offer of early temporary release this morning and opted to stay in the prison for a few more hours.

From early morning, photographers and reporters gathered outside the gates of the prison to try to catch the first glimpse of the killer as he took his first steps to freedom.

Tomorrow is the official release date for Lillis, but there was early speculation that today would be the day he would be handed back his belongings and let out the door.

After breakfast, usually around 8am, is the time most prisoners are granted their liberty, walking out the door to a waiting relative or taxi. But 8am came and went at Wheatfield this morning with no sign of the grey-haired Lillis.

fortune

It's believed the wife-killer has amassed a fortune of around €1.3m between sums he is due from the wind-up of his wife's TV production company, a pension and the sale of properties co-owned by the couple.

That's about €688 for every day he spent in jail.

No longer known as prisoner 55511, the wealthy killer has booked a flight to England for tomorrow morning, the Herald can reveal.

Lillis was found guilty in February 2010 of the manslaughter of Celine Cawley, having bludgeoned her to death with a brick. In jail, he developed a friendship with fellow wife-killer Brian Kearney.

Lillis was involved in many courses on the inside including art and yoga as well as studying French and Spanish.

He was also well known for what jail insiders described as his "excellent" poetry and short stories.

His starring role in a play which was later attended by President Michael D Higgins caused controversy in March 2012.

Just two months later he won a short story prize at the Listowel Writer's Festival.

It all seemed a far cry from the brutal crime that led him to being locked up.

Gardai who responded to a 999 emergency call found Lillis standing over his 46-year-old wife's body in the back patio of the couple's home on Windgate Road, Howth on December 15, 2008.

Lillis had originally claimed that an intruder who fled through the back garden had killed the glamorous former Bond girl.

Investigating gardai quickly established that there was no phantom home invader.

It was Lillis who had fatally struck his wife with a brick after the two became involved in a struggle.

Detectives who grilled him put it to Lillis that an affair he was having with masseuse Jean Treacy was the reason behind the fight with Celine which eventually led to her death. He denied any correlation between the affair and the fight.

During the 14-day trial Lillis pleaded not guilty to the murder of his wife.

The court heard that he accepted he was a major participant in a row between himself and Celine but denied inflicting any injuries to her. Giving evidence he acknowledged that his wife was bleeding profusely, but said he did not think she was seriously injured.

trouble

The jury at the murder trial also heard how a neighbour, Pauline Frasier, heard a high-pitched scream at around 9.30am on the morning of the killing and added that she thought "there was someone in trouble".

Throughout the trial Lillis concocted a series of allegations in which he claimed that both he and Celine agreed to say they tackled a burglar to explain injuries they both received in the violent row.

He also attempted to stain his dead wife's character, saying Ms Cawley had labelled him a "bad father", adding that she had abused him for not bringing in work for their company.

After nine-and-a-half hours of deliberation the jury found Lillis guilty of manslaughter.

Justice Barry White sentenced him to six years and 11 months in jail, adding that the victim impact statements made it clear that the then 52-year old's behaviour had a devastating effect on people.

catching a killer - See PageS 4 & 5

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