herald

Monday 22 October 2018

'He was my friend' - body in canal murder accused said, court told

Dad-of-one Kenneth O’Brien whose body was dismembered
Dad-of-one Kenneth O’Brien whose body was dismembered

A Dublin man accused of murdering a man whose dismembered body was found in a suitcase and shopping bags in the Grand Canal told gardai: "He was my friend."

Paul Wells (50) made the reply when he was cautioned as gardai raided his home following the discovery of Kenneth O'Brien's remains.

The jury in his trial also heard that gardai retrieved a bullet from Mr O'Brien's severed head that was consistent with it having been fired from a semi-automatic pistol.

Mr Wells, of Barnamore Park, Finglas, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr O'Brien (33) at that address between January 15 and 16, 2016.

The accused admitted to gardai that he shot him dead but claimed it happened when they struggled during a row after Mr O'Brien turned up at his home with a gun.

Mr O'Brien had wanted to have his partner Eimear Dunne murdered and Mr Wells refused to kill her, the accused maintained.

He said he "panicked" and dismembered Mr O'Brien's remains, which were later found in a suitcase and shopping bags in the Grand Canal in Co Kildare.

Garda Sergeant Edward Moore told the Central Criminal Court he went to the accused's home on February 6, where he told Mr Wells that he was arresting him on suspicion of murder.

Blood

He cautioned Mr Wells that he was not obliged to say anything, to which the accused replied: "He was my friend."

The court heard Mr Wells's black Audi A3 was seized for examination along with SD cards and a Meteor SIM card.

Detective Sergeant David Conway said he was part of the garda forensic team that inspected the block-built shed in the accused's back yard.

Photographs of the shed, which contained equipment, tools, a ladder and rolled-up carpet, were shown to the jury.

Sections of the carpet were treated to show the possible presence of blood.

A photo of an electric radiator showed a bloodstain, and there were photos of further staining in the boot of the car.

Earlier, the jury heard that one of the last-known people to see Mr O'Brien alive said he was in "good form" the day before he went missing.

A broadband installer who was carrying out work at Mr O'Brien's home and chatted with the father-of-one noted that he "didn't seem too happy" about going back to work in Australia.

The jury also saw CCTV footage showing Mr Wells driving west out of Dublin toward the area in Co Kildare where Mr O'Brien's remains were found.

Canal

Detective Garda Gerard Byrne said he was called to Sallins, Co Kildare, on January 24, 2016, following a call from members of the public who had retrieved a bag from the canal.

When he arrived he saw a heavy-duty Dunnes Stores bag, torn at the bottom, on the bank.

He saw there was a black plastic bag with a small hole in it, tied at the top with cable ties.

The officer saw a "flesh- coloured object" and felt around the bag. It was an L shape and he believed it was a foot.

The trial continues.

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