Both people accused of murdering Paul Jones at his home in Bandon Road did it because they had a “joint animus” against the victim, the prosecution claimed.
But Helen Jones’s lawyer said the prosecution only had a theory and the jury could not convict on that, while Keith O’Hara’s senior counsel said he was acting in self-defence.
Keith O’Hara and Helen Jones both deny murdering Paul Jones at his home on Bandon Road, Cork, on September 4 2019.
Siobhán Lankford told the jury they knew that Helen Jones went to 108 Bandon Road that night with a knife and that when the door closed both of the accused were inside in the house when Paul Jones had 25 stab wounds inflicted on his torso and had his skull split open.
“It is hard to imagine circumstances where a person who did that would not intend to cause death.
“The state’s case is that Helen Jones told (her friend) Breda O’Reilly they had given Paul a beating. And that she sent her a Facebook message saying, ‘Battered Paul.’
“What Helen Jones said to Breda O’Reilly is tantamount to a confession that she went to the house and that she battered and beat Paul. She was worried he was dead. She got Breda to ring various hospitals to see if Paul was alive or dead.
“We know the wound to the head was caused by the bill-hook. Mr O’Hara told you he utilised that weapon on Paul Jones’s head.
“And we know 25 stab wounds were caused by a knife. Dr Mulligan said it was very unlikely the machete caused the stab wounds. The logical inference is that two weapons were used. This is my view of the matter… that both of the accused committed this murder.
“I think there is no doubt Paul Jones remained in his house throughout all this. If he lunged at the woman he was doing so from inside his own house. He was wearing only his underwear. We know from the toxicology report that he was intoxicated… He was certainly not planning on going out that night. He was in his underpants, he was maybe asleep. He was certainly not posing a threat to anyone.”
Ms Lankford said that, whatever about the relationship afterwards, the co-accused were in a strong relationship at the time and had common interests and “a joint animus against Paul Jones.”
She said witnesses saw Helen Jones bring a knife to the scene.
“The state says two people wielded two separate weapons. According to Mr O’Hara he wielded a machete. The prosecution says Helen Jones wielded the knife. It was never found… They were in the house probably for no more than five minutes. They emerged unscathed. Paul Jones was never seen alive again. He died as a result of that attack perpetrated by both of the accused.”
Brendan Grehan SC for Helen Jones said of her appearance outside 108 Bandon Road on that night wearing a dressing gown and no shoes, “You could not say she was dressed to kill.
“Not alone was she not dressed for the occasion or armed for the occasion… This is not like some kind of gangland murder where someone wants to bump off a rival drug baron… She had a bit of a barney with her brother. She was giving out to him. That was it.
“This was not a planned event. This was something that happened.
“I am not here as some kind of second prosecutor of Keith O’Hara. In the legal sense I don’t care about Mr O’Hara. I am here to protect the interests of Helen Jones.
“Nobody else – other than Mr O’Hara – suggests Helen Jones stabbed Paul Jones. No on – not a single witness – says they saw her stab her brother. She believed he got a battering. She did not believe he was fatally injured, much less dead.
“When she said (as a witness described her saying to Paul Jones as he lay on the floor) ‘You got off lightly’, you could not possibly say that to someone you had just killed, to someone you had just stabbed 25 times.”
Mr Grehan said the prosecution had a theory that two people, each one wielding a weapon, killed Paul Jones.
“The prosecution is entitled to have theories but that is not something you can convict on,” he said.
Mr Grehan called the jury’s attention to descriptions of the knife in the hand of Helen Jones when she went to the door of 108 Bandon Road, saying witnesses variously called it a butter knife or a knife with a serrated edge. Against that, he said the chief state pathologist, Dr Linda Mulligan, said the stab injuries could not have been caused by a butter knife or a knife with a serrated edge.
Mr Grehan said the prosecution was asking the jury to convict Helen Jones on the evidence of Keith O’Hara and added that O’Hara “lied about many things.”
Mr Grehan said the only way that O’Hara could account for witness evidence of Helen Jones shouting stop was to say that this was ‘staged.’
Mr Grehan said of O’Hara, “Like a drowning man, he is literally grabbing at anything.”
Helen Jones’s senior counsel said she went to have a barney with her brother when dressed in her dressing gown. And he said that Keith O’Hara arrived on the scene and, “He is like a cowboy in the old west – acts first, asks questions later.”
Tom Creed SC for O’Hara said of the head wound that it was a chop and not the kind of cleaving of the skull suggested by the prosecution where one was left picturing a butcher breaking through skin and bone.
“The prosecution says he is an unreconstructed liar. Mr Grehan says the same. Can I just slow things down here, let’s just focus on what happened. There was blood from Keith O’Hara on the handle – no fingerprints, no (skin) cells. He bled after he fell at MacCurtain Villas. Mr O’Hara is now (according to Mr Grehan) the evil psychopath.
“He was only concerned about getting a small deal of hash from his buddy on Noonan Road,” Mr Creed said.
This was a reference to O’Hara’s evidence that he got a taxi to go to Noonan Road to get a small bit of hash and then return home and it was never his intention to go to Bandon Road.
O’Hara’s defence senior counsel said he had been accused by senior counsel for Helen Jones of sitting down with the book of evidence, seeing what there was against him and tailoring his testimony to address each aspect of it.
“If he was going to tailor his evidence he would have said Helen Jones stabbed him (Paul Jones) and hit him in the head with a cleaver and then she gave me (O’Hara) the cleaver outside.
“But that is not what he said. He told what he said happened. It involved him striking Mr Jones because he believed he was a threat.
“If he was concocting a story why would he not go the full Monty that she struck him on the head and then picked up the knife and stabbed him 25 times. But no, he said, I hit him on the head. But the prosecution says he is a liar. I have to suggest to you that the only piece of truth is what Keith O’Hara told you.
“Mr O’Hara did what he did and he said he did it. But he said he did it because he was in fear that Paul Jones was going to hit Helen Jones with that implement. One is entitled to protect oneself or another from a violent attack. That is what is called self—defence.
“I say, notwithstanding his disreputable past – as you have heard about – he told you what happened. He could have given you a spin, a story that would have completely absolved him. He did not.”
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.
Mr Justice Michael McGrath will continue his address to the jury of ten people at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork tomorrow.