Inheritance row over family home the motive for murder, prosecution alleges at Cork murder trial

Inheritance row over family home the motive for murder, prosecution alleges at Cork murder trial

Helen Jones, sister of murder victim Paul Jones. Helen Jones, 54, of 27, Cahergal Avenue, Mayfield, Cork, pleaded not guilty to the charge of murdering Paul Jones, her 52-year-old brother at his home, on September 4, 2019 at 108 Bandon Road, Cork.
 

The motive for the murder by stabbing of a 52-year-old man at his home in Cork city was a row over the inheritance of a family home, the prosecution alleged at the opening of the case.

The judge and jury were also told that a post-mortem examination of the body of Paul Jones found inside his front door at Bandon Road over two years ago showed “25 or so stab wounds to his torso and a stab chop-wound to his head.”

The allegations of motive and stab wounds were made by prosecution senior counsel Siobhán Lankford in her opening speech at the trial of Helen Jones for the murder of her brother. Keith O’Hara, who was in a relationship with Jones at the time, is also on trial for murder.

Ms Lankford stressed that her outline of the anticipated prosecution evidence was not itself evidence: “It comes with a health warning. I am about to tell you what I think you are going to hear. I may be wrong, I could be very wrong.”

Ms Lankford said: “There was a motive for murder in that there was an ongoing dispute between Helen Jones and her two brothers about 27, Cahergal Avenue. the house where she lived with Keith O’Hara. It had been the family home of the Jones family. Under the terms of the Jones’s father’s will, the house was left to Liam and Paul Jones.

“Helen Jones had a right to live there until marriage. Ultimately, there was a court case about the property in 2018. These proceedings had been compromised. Liam and Paul brought the case trying to evict Helen Jones from 27, Cahergal Avenue. It was compromised on the basis that she would vacate and be paid a certain amount out of the sale of the house. But despite the case being settled there was ongoing acrimony.”

Taxi driver

Ms Lankford told the jury they would hear evidence of the two accused being brought from Cahergal Avenue to the home of Paul Jones at around 9.30pm on September 4, 2019 by taxi. She said they would hear from a witness who described seeing Helen Jones banging on the door at 108, Bandon Road with the handle of a knife.

Ms Lankford said Paul Jones was found dead on September 7, 2019. She said a relative of the deceased became very worried when he had not heard from Paul Jones for some time.

This relative and others went to the house at Bandon Road and eventually opened the door. One witness saw a body on the floor and they immediately called gardaí.

“Pat Moynihan is a taxi driver. You will hear from him. On September 4, 2019, Helen Jones and Keith O’Hara ordered a taxi from Sun Cabs in Mayfield. Pat Moynihan was sent to the house to collect this couple. Helen Jones was personally known to him. Paul Jones was also known to him. She introduced the person with her as Keith,” Ms Lankford said.

CCTV will show the Volkswagen Caddy arrive at Bandon Road, near the Lough Credit Union, the prosecution lawyer said.

After Helen Jones first went to the door at 108, Bandon Road, “a number of witnesses saw Ms Jones had in her hand a knife”, and returned to the taxi and she then left the car with Keith O’Hara.

“Mr Moynihan, the taxi driver, saw Paul Jones at the door of his house and that they [the two accused] approached. Mr Moynihan said he [the deceased] is standing dressed in black boxer shorts and there is aggression between the parties.

“There are a number of witnesses who say both Ms Jones and Mr O’Hara are seen entering Paul Jones’s property. Some witnesses saw a body. a person prone on the ground. Some will say they saw Ms Jones standing over the body on the ground.

“After a short period of time, seven minutes or so, Mr O’Hara and Ms Jones leave the property at Bandon Road,” Ms Lankford said.

She said they got a taxi back from nearby MacCurtain Villas to Cahergal Avenue and that blood from O’Hara was later found in the back of this taxi.

Ms Lankford said a machete or bill-hook was found later in a garden at MacCurtain Villas and when it was forensically examined it was found to have blood with a DNA match for Paul Jones on the blade and blood with a DNA match for Keith O’Hara on the handle.

Keith O’Hara, 43, of 27, Cahergal Avenue, also pleaded not guilty to the same murder charge.
Keith O’Hara, 43, of 27, Cahergal Avenue, also pleaded not guilty to the same murder charge.

Concluding the opening address, Ms Lankford said: “There is no witness to say ‘I saw the fatal blow or the fatal blows’. But you will hear witness after witness to construct, brick by brick, an edifice that Helen Jones and Keith O’Hara participated in and caused the murder of Paul Jones.”

Charges

Helen Jones, 54, of 27, Cahergal Avenue, Mayfield, Cork, pleaded not guilty to the charge of murdering Paul Jones, her 52-year-old brother at his home, on September 4, 2019 at 108 Bandon Road, Cork.

Her co-accused Keith O’Hara, 43, also of 27, Cahergal Avenue, also pleaded not guilty to the same murder charge.

Each defendant is additionally charged with a different count related to alleged trespass at the same time and place. Helen Jones is charged with trespass to cause serious harm while carrying a knife. Keith O’Hara is charged with trespassing to commit serious harm. The defendants also pleaded not guilty to these charges.

The case before Mr Justice Michael McGrath and a jury of five women and seven men is expected to go on for four weeks at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork.

Witnesses, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, testified in the afternoon that they went to the home of the deceased on September 7 because of concerns about Paul Jones.

It was confirmed by witnesses that the late Paul Jones had a drink problem.

The witnesses went together to the house at 108, Bandon Road and they were unable to open the door. With the help of a friend of the deceased who was passing at the time, they managed to open the door a little and the body of the deceased was seen in the hall.

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