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Killing of mum and cover up 'a gross betrayal' as four of family are jailed

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Keith Johnston and Patricia’s granddaughter
Stephanie O’Connor

Keith Johnston and Patricia’s granddaughter Stephanie O’Connor

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Patricia O’Connor’s husband Gus O’Connor

Patricia O’Connor’s husband Gus O’Connor

Killer Kieran Greene.

Killer Kieran Greene.

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Keith Johnston and Patricia’s granddaughter Stephanie O’Connor

Four members of grandmother Patricia O'Connor's extended family have been jailed for their roles in covering up her brutal killing.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott jailed Patricia's husband Augustine 'Gus' O'Connor (76), daughter Louise (41), granddaughter Stephanie (22) and Louise's ex-boyfriend Keith Johnston (43) for impeding the prosecution of murderer Kieran Greene.

Louise was given a three-year sentence and Stephanie two years, each with the final six months suspended. Gus was jailed for 18 months and Johnston for three years.

Their combined prison time is eight-and-a-half years, while Greene was jailed for life on Monday.

Judge McDermott told the Central Criminal Court that what Gus, Louise and Stephanie O'Connor did was a "gross betrayal" of Patricia. Gus had behaved "disgracefully", he said, and he did not believe either Louise or Stephanie had yet told the full truth of what happened that night.

Battered

He said Johnston must have known of Greene's "grotesque idea" to dismember Patricia's body when they later went on a shopping spree with an "evil purpose".

Greene battered Patricia to death with a child's hurley in a "sustained attack" at the family home at Mountain View Park, Rathfarnham, on May 29, 2017.

He buried the grandmother-of-seven's body in a field in Co Wexford that night, returned on June 9 and dug it up, dismembered it with a hacksaw and scattered the remains in the Wicklow Mountains.

After the murder, Louise and Stephanie claimed Patricia had stormed out of the house following an argument.

Stephanie dressed up as her dead grandmother leaving the house that night, to be captured on a neighbour's CCTV to bolster this claim.

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Patricia O’Connor's daughter Louise O’Connor passes Patricia’s friends at the Central Criminal Court

Patricia O’Connor's daughter Louise O’Connor passes Patricia’s friends at the Central Criminal Court

Patricia O’Connor's daughter Louise O’Connor passes Patricia’s friends at the Central Criminal Court

Her mother Louise agreed to the plan.

Gus O'Connor knew his wife had been murdered by Greene but went to gardai to falsely report she was missing on June 1.

Handyman Johnston, Stephanie's father, went shopping with Greene on June 9 to help him select tools that were later used by Greene to dismember the body.

The four co-accused were convicted of impeding Greene's prosecution. All except Patricia's husband had denied the charges and were found guilty by a jury in February.

Gus O'Connor pleaded guilty before the trial started.

Greene had pleaded not guilty to the murder.

Judge McDermott said yesterday the offences were "simply appalling". The body was disposed of in a very short period of time and "no effort was made to obtain the assistance of the gardai or emergency services".

Patricia had worked hard all her life for her children and grandchildren and her death had been "devastating and heartbreaking" for her family, the judge continued.

Gus O'Connor's reaction to his wife's death was "appalling" and he did not demonstrate much interest or concern for her when he simply asked the others to call gardai and, after they refused, went to bed.

As Patricia's daughter and granddaughter, Louise and Stephanie's reactions to what was done to her were shocking and callous, a fact that was compounded by the close family connections."

Louise O'Connor bore a greater degree of culpability and responsibility than her daughter, the judge said. He was satisfied Stephanie was not the originator of the idea to disguise herself and was not acting on her own.

Since conviction both Louise and Stephanie had accepted the jury's verdict, but Judge McDermott was not satisfied that either of them had told the full truth.

Johnston went with Patricia's murderer, knowing she was dead, to assist him in selecting tools that he must have known were going to be used for the "dreadful purpose" of dismembering her, the judge said.

Greene "took the most extreme steps imaginable" to avoid detection and Johnston "assisted him in doing so".

On CCTV, the two were seen in shops "calmly and diligently" doing something familiar to everyone "but with an underlying evil purpose".

Johnston still maintained his innocence. None of the four accused showed any reaction to the sentences.

The accused sat apart in the courtroom due to social-distancing measures, except for Louise and Stephanie, who sat side by side in the dock.

The mother and daughter each stood in turn to acknowledge their bonds for the suspended portions of their sentences.

Louise, dressed in a grey T-shirt and jeans, replied "yes" almost inaudibly when asked if she agreed to the terms. Her daughter, wearing a Rick and Morty cartoon T-shirt, said "I do".

The judge refused a request from Gus O'Connor's barrister Micheal P O'Higgins to suspend his client's sentence.

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Murdered Patricia O’Connor.

Murdered Patricia O’Connor.

Murdered Patricia O’Connor.