Grandmother Patricia O’Connor suffered ‘violent death’, court told

Patricia O'Connor
Photo: Family handout via RTE News
Patricia O’Connor
Photo: Family handout via RTE News

Andrew Phelan

A CRIME scene examiner has said she does not believe grandmother Patricia O’Connor was killed at any of the locations where her dismembered remains were found, and that these were a “dumping ground” after she died a “violent death” elsewhere.

The detective also said the bathroom at the house where Ms O’Connor was allegedly murdered had been recently and “badly” painted.
A forensic scientist said the only bloostaining he found was one spot on the bathroom floor, and this was from an unidentified male.
A Central Criminal Court jury was hearing evidence in the trials of Kieran Greene (34), who is accused of killing Ms O’Connor (61), and three other people who are charged with impeding the murder investigation.
The retired hospital worker’s remains were found scattered in 15 parts at nine locations over a 30km-wide area in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains between June 10 and 14, 2017.
Ms O’Connor had died from blunt force trauma to the head caused by at least three blows with a solid implement.
Kieran Greene denies murdering Ms O’Connor, the mother of his then-partner Louise O’Connor, at the house they shared at Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, on May 29, that year.
Ms O’Connor’s daughter and granddaughter Louise (41) and Stephanie O’Connor (22), as well as Louise O’Connor’s ex-partner, Keith Johnston (43) all deny acting to impede Mr Greene’s apprehension or prosecution.
Stephanie O’Connor is alleged to have disguised herself as her grandmother on the night of her alleged murder to pretend that she was still alive, while her mother Louise is accused of agreeing to this.
Keith Johnston is alleged to have assisted Mr Greene in buying implements to use in the concealment of Patricia O’Connor’s remains, and to have refurbished the bathroom at the house to destroy or conceal evidence.
This afternoon, Det Gda Janette O’Neill gave evidence of attending the scenes where Ms O’Connor’s remains were found, initially by members of the public, then in a large-scale search by gardai and army personnel.
The jury heard the remains included the torso in four parts and the head and hands in a black plastic bag, and they were found on grass embankments at the side of the road, as well as at a waterfall.
The body parts were labelled one to 15 and a “skeleton” map of them was given to the jury to show their locations on the body. Some parts showed more signs of decomposition than others, she said.
After the discovery of the head on June 13, it was noted that the deceased was female, Det Gda O’Neill said. The hands had been sawn at the wrists and the nails were cut short and did not appear broken.
There appeared to be blunt force trauma to the head, which had a “number of visible lacerations and fractures to it.”
The 13th part to be found was the lower torso which had a pair of underpants – a thong – present, Det Gda O’Neill said.
The last body part to be found was the left foot.
“I believe the deceased did not die at any of these scenes, it appears they were just a dumping ground for all the pieces of the remains,” she said. “I am of the opinion that the deceased received a violent death, from the results of the post mortem examination on all the body parts, especially the head.”
On June 15, she attended a technical examination of the house at Mountainview Park. By then, Ms O’Connor had been identified.
She saw no sign of blood or a struggle or altercation in the house, which was “very untidy throughout.”
She observed there appeared to have been an attempt to partially paint the hallway and bathroom.
It appeared to be recently painted, I don’t know whether it was a bad job or done quickly, but it wasn’t a very good job,” she said.
The step-in to the shower looked like it had been recently tiled, she said.
A small, child’s hurley stick was found in the hallway and this was shown to the jury as an exhibit.
In cross-examination, Det Gda O’Neill told Conor Devally SC, for Mr Greene, that the hands might have been more decomposed because they were in a black bag and could have “sweated.”
Mr Devally said it would not be expected that signs of a struggle such as disturbed furniture would have remained after two weeks.
There was no contact evidence on the hurley.
Earlier, the jury heard statements and evidence from army personnel and gardai who were part of the search in the Wicklow Mountains.
Prosecutor Roisin Lacey SC read out a statement by Corporal Barry Hannon who said he was searching between Sally Gap and Glenmacnass Waterfall on June 12 when “something caught my eye” at 4pm.
“I went to investigate and I noticed what looked like butcher meat,” he said. “There were three pieces of what looked like meat.”
There were two larger pieces and one smaller, about six feet from the road, close to each other but not attached.
Another army corporal said he was searching the Military Road near the Sally Gap on June 12 when Corporal Hannon said “look here” and he saw a “lump of meat, what looked like pork” lying under a bush. Beside that, he saw what looked like a thigh – it was meat, with bone protruding from it. Another piece “looked like a bent elbow.”

Private Dean O’Neill said he was in an army transport vehicle searching the road at Carrick Duff on June 13. The cab was higher up and had a better vantage point than cars, the court heard. He saw what he thought was a body part and was able to make out that it was part of a torso.
Private John Curtis said he was in a “skirmish line” searching along the road on June 13. About an hour after lunch “I noticed a funny smell.”
“It was like a rotten meat kind of smell,” he said. “I continued walking, I seen a hundred flies, all flying around. I got the smell really bad then.”
They walked further and “all the flies flew away.”
“What was left then was the torso part,” he said. “Maybe the bottom part of the torso and the top half of the legs and underwear was wrapped up around the back. It looked like a pig, it had that colour.”
The skin colour was “pinky… it looked gone off, to be honest,” he said.
His view was that it could be human and he could see what looked like a spine.
Private Anthony Walsh said in a statement said he was searching an area close to the Sally Gap on June 13 when, on a flat, grassy area between 1pm to 4pm, he came across what he suspected was a body part around 1.5m from the road.
“I could see the upper legs, maybe six to eight inches from the groin where the leg was severed up to the lower stomach where again the body ceased because it was severed,” he said.
It was from the hip bone to a third of the way down the femur and there was underwear present, he said.
“It was in clear sight, not covered or obstructed in any way,” he said.
In a statement, Garda Kevin Flynn said he was part of the search between Glencree Village and Glenmacnass Waterfall on June 13.
At 3.50pm in the Carrick Duff area, he discovered what appeared to be human remains, a lower torso, and the area was cordoned off.
Garda David Hanley said he was searching a wooded area on June 14 and at 3.50pm had cut and lifted a tree branch when he noticed an object on the grass underneath. This was a human foot.
Garda Seamus Murphy said he was searching the Dodder Valley Linear Park off the Firhouse Road in Tallaght on January 2, 2018. At 2.45pm he found a hacksaw in the undergrowth between the tarmac footpath and the River Dodder, he said. It was a “standard” black and white handled hacksaw with a rusty blade, he said.
“My impression was it had been thrown into the overgrowth,” he said.
Garda Joseph Waldron gave evidence of finding another hacksaw in the undergrowth. A photograph was compared with a hacksaw from a “controlled purchase” by gardai. Gda Waldron agreed that the blade on the hacksaw he found was rusty while the other had black a plastic covering.
This afternoon, forensic scientist John Hoade said he analysed samples taken from the post mortem examination on the deceased’s remains and from Louise O’Connor.
The DNA profile from the remains were “two million times more likely to be from the biological mother of Louise O’Connor than from somebody unrelated,” he said.
“This would be fully consistent with the deceased being the mother of Louise O’Connor.”
He said he went to the house at Mountainview Park in June 2017 and found no blood on a visual examination of the bathroom and a small front bedroom that had foil on the floor.
He then used a chemical spray called Blue Star, which “lights up” in the presence of blood, to treat both rooms.
After treating the bathroom, he observed a positive reaction for blood on the bathroom floor, adjacent to the bath panel, in the grout where the tile meets the panel.
This yielded a low level DNA profile from a male source. There was very little blood and the profile was partial but it was enough to eliminate Patricia O’Connor as the source.
There was “no trace of blood” in the bedroom, or on the child’s hurley.
No blood was found on any of the tools or household items examined, or items found on the Military Road such as bedsheets, gloves and a shopping bag.
There was insufficient DNA material to generate a profile on the knot of the black plastic bag in which Ms O’Connor’s head and hands were found.
A Toyota Corolla, which Patricia O’Connor owned, but Kieran Greene was permitted to use, was also treated with Blue Star, inside and in the boot. This produced a negative result. The boot mat was missing from the car.
Hair samples from a shallow grave in Wexford and the hacksaw found at the Dodder had insufficient DNA to generate profiles. A test on fabric found at the grave was also negative. There was no blood found in a holdall bag containing a tire iron and wheelbraces, or on the hacksaws and hatchet found by the Dodder.
In cross-examination, Mr Hoade agreed that DNA could degrade over time.
The trial continues on Monday before the jury and Mr Justice Paul McDermott.

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