Limerick man accused of murdering Cork pensioner sent forward for trial

Michael Leonard (63) is accused of murdering Mary O'Keeffe (72), whose body was found in a burning car in Doneraile, Co Cork in February.
Limerick man accused of murdering Cork pensioner sent forward for trial

Olivia Kelleher

A man in his sixties accused of murdering 72-year-old Mary O'Keeffe, whose body was found in a burning car in Doneraile, Co Cork, has been sent forward for trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Michael Leonard (63) with an address at Hillcrest, Glenosheen, Kilmallock, Co Limerick, appeared at Cork District Court on Friday via video link from prison.

During the brief hearing Detective Sergeant James O’Shea served the book of evidence on defence solicitor, Brendan Gill.

Sgt Gearóid Davis applied for the case to be sent forward to the present sittings of the Central Criminal Court. Judge Olann Kelleher acceded to his application.

The trial is expected to be heard in the Central Criminal Court next year and Mr Leonard was remanded in continuing custody. He is accused of murder contrary to common law on February 4th of pensioner, Mary O’Keeffe at Dromdeer East, Doneraile, Co Cork.

The mother-of-three lived in Dromahane near Mallow in Co Cork and worked as a cook. The alarm was raised on the afternoon of February 4th when a passer-by spotted a car on fire near the Coillte forest in Doneraile. Ms O’Keeffe was pronounced dead at the scene.

Earlier this year, Coroner for North Cork, Dr Michael Kennedy opened the inquest into the death of the widow who was originally from Lombardstown, Co Cork.

The inquest at Mallow Courthouse heard evidence from Det Sgt James O’Shea who told the court that Mallow Fire Service was called to a car fire in the woods at the Dromdeer on February 4th, 2021.

When firefighters outed the fire they discovered a body in the car.

The inquest heard the body of Ms O'Keeffe had to be identified using DNA because visual identification was not possible due to the burns.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster carried out a post-mortem at Cork City Morgue. She said Ms O’Keeffe died from extensive severe third degree burns associated with the inhalation of carbon dioxide due a fire in the car.

The inquest was adjourned pending the completion of criminal proceedings which are currently before the courts.

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