An eyewitness in the Cork murder trial saw a man lying in the hallway of a house in his underpants with a woman leaning over him shouting the word, ‘rat’, into his face.
Student Jack Ivory was the passenger in a car driven by his girlfriend Leona Murphy, who was also a student, on the night of September 4, 2019. A woman walked across the road in front of their car after getting out of a taxi.
Jack Ivory said, “The woman walked out in front of the car in a dressing gown and bare feet. Leona had to slow down significantly not to hit her. She would have been in her 50s. She looked quite angry – quite sour – at the time. She got into a taxi which turned and did a U-turn.
“There was a man at the door of the house in boxer shorts. The taxi pulled in. The woman got out and walked towards him… She was angry, like. She was making her way towards him in the doorway.
“The man in the doorway was in his 50s, bald, a small bit heavy.
“There was shouting going on. At that point I thought there was some argument, I did not want to be seen to be watching. I was only glancing over my shoulder.
“A man, a bit younger than the woman, got out of the taxi and came up in the direction of the house.
“The man in the boxers let out a moan. The younger man made some kind of taunt. He (man in underpants) was flat on his back in the hallway. We could make out from the tops of his legs down. The woman is standing over him, speaking quite aggressively to him still – a foot either side of his body – looking down on him, maybe around his knees or slightly higher than that.”
He said he and his girlfriend got out of the car and went to the house but there was a problem with the key and the lock and they were at the door for ten minutes, possibly longer.
He said that at some point the parties across the road went in the door of the house where there had been raised voices. He heard more when the door closed.
Mr Ivory said, “You could hear the man on the ground moaning. It sounded like he was in a bit of pain… The prominent voice was the woman at the door. She sounded quite aggressive, quite angry. We could hear the man who was at the door moaning like he was getting a bit of a beating.”
Asked later about this moment by Brendan Grehan SC for Jones to describe what he thought the man said to the man on the floor of the hall, Mr Ivory said, “He made some comment like a taunt – 'Now so' or something like that. After that, the man let out a moan. We presumed he was getting a few slaps.”
During his cross-examination, Tom Creed SC for O’Hara, said, “There is a man in his underpants at the front door shouting. It is quite unusual, even for Bandon Road.”
Leona Murphy said, “The woman was just roaring at the man at the door. It was a little bit frightening. I was trying my hardest not to look at them. After a while I turned and looked. Whatever way I glanced at the house the man standing at the door was on the floor. I could see the soles of his feet.
“He was on the ground – the woman standing over him. She was leaning over him roaring in his face. They were just inside the door. She was roaring ‘rat’. There were sentences – I am not sure what the sentences were but I could hear the word ‘rat’ a few times. She was more or less roaring in his face – as close as you could get if you were crouching,” Ms Murphy testified.
Ivan Keeley was on the way to Lennox’s chipper with his mother and described what he saw at the doorway of the house on Bandon Road: “The man in the doorway, I believe he was holding something in his hand – a shoe or a belt or something. The man in the doorway, I believe he did lunge towards the woman. I am not sure if they started fighting. The man with the woman stepped in to intervene… to get in between the man and the woman… I believe he did try to hit the man inside the house. I do recall the man and woman entering the house, the man inside the house did fall over.”
Asked by Siobhán Lankford SC for the prosecution what caused the man in his underpants to fall over, Mr Keeley replied that he believed the man was pushed and added, “It might have been by the other man.”
Mr Grehan SC reminded Mr Keeley of his statement to gardaí in relation to the man in his underpants, “I believe he shouted at her not to come into the house. He was threatening to kill her. He lunged at her with whatever was in his hand.”
Mr Keeley agreed that this was what he said to gardaí.
Mr Creed SC asked if the item in the hand of the man in the doorway in his underpants might have been a machete – as shown by exhibits officer, Garda Aoife Hayes, Mr Keeley said, “It looks similar to the shape. I could not be 100%.”
Mr Creed asked, “When you saw the man take the swipe with whatever he had in his hand he was threatening to kill the lady?”
Mr Keeley replied, “Yes.”
Mr Creed then said, “And then the other man intervened to protect the lady?”
The witness replied, “Yes.”
One of the jurors in the murder trial did not appear at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork. When the eleven jurors arrived back in the afternoon following an adjournment from the morning, Mr Justice Michael McGrath said, “As you have seen, your numbers are eleven jurors here today. The information I have is that in compliance with measures, jurors are not deemed to be close contacts. If any of you have concerns it is open for you to contact your GP or HSE helpline.”
The judge said they should keep in contact with him through the jury foreman and that nothing should interfere with their attention to the evidence in the case.
The trial continues before Mr Justice McGrath and a jury now consisting of five women and six men.
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.