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Lillis's gift of a Tiffany pendant to his mistress and ... love song

It was the briefest of glances, a quick, nervous flicker of Jean Treacy's eyes towards former lover Eamonn Lillis, who is pleading not guilty to murder.

For his part, the accused did not return the look, his head bowed as he focused on his notes. Throughout a long morning in court, he had looked casually towards the witness box on occasion, yet there was no eye contact with the woman who had once shared his bed.

In a room full of eagle-eyed onlookers, it seemed Lillis was the only person who appeared uninterested in the testimony of Ms Treacy. Only a blush rising from his neck gave any hint as to the emotions underneath the expressionless face.

He had admitted to gardai that he was "infatuated" with his local massage therapist, with whom he had conducted a 10-week affair before his wife Celine's death.

Ms Treacy dispelled any notion that it had been a true love affair. She was asked by prosecution counsel Mary Ellen Ring if she had been in love with the accused. The answer was succinct: "At the time, I thought I did, but I realise now it was more infatuation than anything. It came and went."

Looking younger than her 32 years, Ms Treacy's attractive face was framed by a curtain of long, straight, dark hair, parted at the side. If she was unnerved by the flurry of whispers that had greeted the announcement of her name in court, she didn't show it.

Dressed in black trousers, a bright white shirt and a knee-length belted black cardigan with a wide collar, she cut a slim figure as she leaned forward in the box, speaking clearly and distinctly into the microphone.

She didn't look towards the rear of the court, to where the Ms Cawley's family was observing closely. Celine's father, Jim, sat forward in his seat, glasses perched on his nose.

Lillis confided in his mistress that he was unhappy in his marriage. Ms Treacy said she listened to his problems, but insisted she had never wanted his marriage to end.

Their clandestine relationship intensified throughout December, and they were in contact on the day before Ms Cawley's death.

Ms Treacy told the court they had been arranging to meet on the following day, so she sent a text to her lover and asked him to bring the "ML", referring to the SUV owned by the couple. It wasn't for "seedy" or "sordid" reasons, she explained, but she felt more comfortable in a vehicle that had tinted windows.

It was on the following Monday morning that Lillis made a frantic 999 call, after which Ms Cawley was pronounced dead at Beaumont Hospital. Afterwards, Ms Treacy said she believed the story about an intruder in the home and had sent a text to her lover offering her support.

His reply read: "It gives me great strength to know that you're thinking of me."

She said contact between them dwindled after the death, as she believed it was better for everyone if she wasn't in the picture. Yet in January, Lillis came back into her life, phoning her, calling to her house and asking to meet her to explain what had happened.

In the witness box, Ms Treacy's voice softened as she explained that her memory of the first few months of last year was "blurry" because of all that was going on in her head. She was compelled to leave her old job, and found herself caught up in a "nightmare".

Her composure wobbled slightly as she described how she had relented and agreed to meet Lillis again. There were a few meetings between them in February and March, and the accused had described to her in detail the violent row with his wife that had ended when she incurred head injuries.

She relayed his claim that it had started when Ms Cawley shouted at her husband after he forgot to take out the rubbish. It escalated, according to Ms Treacy, into "a shouting match", during which the couple said "disgusting" things to one another. It moved out to the patio, both of them had "lost it", and matters became physical.

Lillis had told his lover he had been grappling on the ground with his wife when she bit his finger. So afraid was he that she would bite it off that he pushed her head back, and a pool of blood had appeared. He had said his wife drifted in and out of consciousness, but agreed with him that they would explain their injuries to their daughter by concocting a story about a burglar.

In his seat near the top of the room, Lillis hadn't reacted.

He didn't flinch as Jean Treacy attempted to explain why she had agreed to meet him again. In halting tones, she started: "To find myself in this nightmare... I couldn't understand how I'd made such a bad judgment of character, how I'd gotten it so wrong. Had I missed something?" Furthermore, she told the court, she had wanted to get "closure".

Her dealings with Lillis hadn't yet finished. In May, he sent a package to her workplace, containing a three-page letter wrapped in paper emblazoned with the words of the Beyonce song Halo. Inside was a Tiffany pendant. Ms Treacy took it straight to the gardai.

Yesterday, the nightmare had continued as she braved the crowds and endured an entire morning of evidence. Her composure hadn't wavered, but the sagging shoulders as she exited the witness box told its own story of the immense strain of the last 13 months.

The trial continues.