The Cork murder trial came to an end with the hope that the 55-year-old who was stabbed 25 times and had his skull split open with a bill-hook in a frenzied attack over two years ago can now finally rest in peace.
Liam Jones expressed this sentiment in his victim impact statement as his sister Helen Jones, 54, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of their 55-year-old brother Paul in a row over inheritance of their family home at 27 Cahergal Avenue in Mayfield.
Her then partner 43-year old Keith O’Hara was also jailed for life for the murder.
Liam Jones said, “Since Paul’s death on September 4 2019 I have been feeling physically sick. Since Paul’s death and how he died I have not felt well at all. In fact, I could not attend court because I was so sick.”
His victim impact statement was read by Detective Sergeant Joe Young.
“This was a tragic death that Paul had and he didn’t deserve it. Paul lived a quiet life in the last few years and only went out two or three times a week to do some shopping. Paul’s death left a big void in my life.
“When the verdict came out as guilty I felt that my brother Paul got justice. I am glad that this day has come and the court case is finally over. Hopefully now Paul can rest in peace.”
In further impact evidence, the family spoke of never getting the opportunity to say goodbye to the deceased and they were left to think about his last moments – “what he must have felt, what he must have been thinking and what he suffered.”
The family said the two accused could have admitted the murder and spared the further trauma of the court case and all the awful details having to be given in evidence.
“The house in Cahergal Avenue is still there but (Paul Jones) is not, due to their actions. A house is only bricks and mortar but he was a live human being.”
Detective Sergeant Young outlined the background to the case which has been set out in great detail in the past four weeks at the Central Criminal Court in Cork – how the two accused went to Paul Jones’s home in a taxi at 9.45pm on September 4 2019 and murdered him because of a dispute about the inheritance of 27 Cahergal Avenue which was left to Paul and Liam Jones, with a residential provision for Helen.
The parties later agreed that the house would be sold and Helen Jones would get €50,000. Liam Jones took the house off the market when the best offer reached €180,000 and he brought it to another auctioneer but as Det. Sgt. Young said, “Ms Jones was unhappy about that.”
The jury was never told of previous convictions against Helen Jones. These were outlined at the sentencing. She had eight convictions for assaulting people. Six of those were for simple assault. Two were for assault causing harm.
Keith O’Hara who is originally from Churchfield had been in a relationship with his co-accused for seven months before they carried out the murder. He had four previous convictions for assault, one for assault causing harm and one from the UK for wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. He had two convictions for possession of knives and one for possession of an article to cause injury.
Mr Justice McGrath expressed his condolences to the wider Jones family and to the friends of the late Paul Jones as he imposed the mandatory life sentences on Helen Jones and Keith O’Hara.
To Det. Sgt. Young, the judge said, “You and your team carried out this investigation in a meticulous manner.”
Sentencing, Mr Justice McGrath said,
Helen Jones and Keith O’Hara did not communicate with each other at the sentencing hearing or at any stage during the four-week trial despite the fact that they were sitting in the same dock some three metres from each other throughout the case.
On the aggravated burglary charge, Helen Jones got a concurrent four-year sentence. For trespassing with intent to cause injury, Keith O’Hara got a concurrent three-year sentence.
Both of the convicted murderers have been in jail since the date of their arrest on September 10 2019.