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Saturday 10 December 2016

Wife-killer Eamonn Lillis now a millionaire thanks to tragic Celine Cawley

Celine Cawley pictured shortly before her death
Celine Cawley pictured shortly before her death

EVIL Eamonn Lillis will walk to freedom as a millionaire.

With his scheduled release from prison, he becomes one of Ireland's wealthiest ex-convicts.

But he only has his wealth of around €1.3m because of the wife he killed.

Celine Cawley (46) had built up a successful television production company by the time he bashed her with a brick at their luxury home Rowan Hill (inset) and blamed it on an intruder.

Lillis experienced success of his own while in prison when he thwarted Celine's family's attempts to ensure that the couple's daughter Georgia inherit all her wealth rather than see the man who killed her profit from her death.

Celine's brother Chris Cawley and their sister Susanna spoke about the bitter legal battle between Lillis and the Cawley family over Celine's wealth.

Georgia herself even swore an affidavit saying: "I would rather stick pins in my eyes than have him return within six miles of Rowan Hill."

Celine was head of Toytown Productions and the driving force behind the company. He secured around €600,000 from the winding up of the couple's business after her death.

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Eamonn Lillis

Lillis receives the benefit of a pension valued at €450k as a director of the firm she headed. He also scooped up as much as €500k from properties jointly owned by the couple, including the sale of an apartment in Sutton.

In 2012, the luxury home in Howth where he killed her was sold for €850,000.

Under the 1965 Succession Act, killers can not normally inherit any part of the estate of the person they have murdered, attempted to murder or killed in circumstances amounting to murder.

Lillis was convicted of manslaughter. But the law states that where a killer has held a joint tenancy with the deceased, the full interest automatically passes to the surviving joint owner.

The property does not become part of the dead person's estate, even if the surviving owner killed their joint tenant.

In 2011, the High Court ruled that Rowan Hill did not form part of her estate. But the judge ruled that Celine's share of the home should be held on trust for their daughter Georgia.

Lillis, worth more than €1.5m, before expenses were paid, would have been even richer if he had won a further legal battle in the French courts.

 

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The couple co-owned a holiday home in stylish Biarritz in France worth €800k. A French judge ruled that Lillis was "unfit" to inherit that property because he had killed Celine.

The legal fees in the French case came to less than €20,000. The legal fees in the Irish cases came to around €180k.

During the Irish civil proceedings, Lillis acknowledged he had no entitlement to his late wife's assets that were held solely in her own name. The Cawley family hope Irish law is changed to stop spouse-killers making financial gains where they jointly own properties.

aokeeffe@herald.ie

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