A woman has been found guilty of the murder of her brother who received a chop wound to his head with a bill hook and 25 stab wounds to his body amid a dispute over the inheritance of the family home.
Helen Jones (54) was convicted of the murder of her 55-year-old brother Paul at his home on Bandon Road in Cork city on September 4th, 2019. Her former partner Keith O’Hara, who blamed Helen for the killing, was also convicted of the murder.
The jury of four women and six men sitting at Cork Central Criminal Court took three hours and forty-five minutes to deliver their unanimous verdict for both co accused. The pair were also both convicted of trespassing at the property of Paul Jones to commit serious harm.
Both defendants will be sentenced on Friday. Victim impact statements will be delivered by members of the Jones family. The verdict followed a lengthy trial which got underway on November 23rd.
Mr Justice Michael McGrath thanked the jurors for their "care and attention" to the case and informed them that they were exempt from jury service for life.
Brendan Grehan, SC for Ms Jones, asked if his client could stay in the holding cells during the victim impact sentence as she fears becoming physically ill. Mr Justice McGrath said that he would consider the matter in the morning.
Mr O’Hara and Ms Jones were living together at Cahergal Avenue, Mayfield in Cork at the time of the offence. They were in a relationship but have since broken up. Helen and Keith got a taxi to the home of Paul Jones on the evening of September 4th, 2019 after Keith O’Hara told an acquaintance that the brother of his girlfriend “was going to pay for not handing over the house.”
The trial heard that the father of Helen and Paul Jones had left the family home in Cahergal Avenue to his two sons with the provision that Helen could live there until she married.
The jurors were told that there was a civil action with the late Paul Jones and his brother Liam on one side and their sister on the other. It was settled on the basis that Helen Jones would settle her life interest in the house for €50,000. However, Ms Jones continued to have feelings of bad blood in connection with the family home.
The prosecution evidence was that Ms Jones hammered on the door of her brother’s house with a knife at around 9.30pm on September 4th, 2019.
After several minutes the two accused left the property and headed in the direction of MacCurtain Villas where they were captured on CCTV. Searches were carried out in the area and a discarded bill hook was found in the property of a garden in MacCurtain’s Villas.
Keith O’Hara gave evidence in the case where he denied the murder of Paul Jones instead claiming that Helen had killed her brother.
He said that they were “kind of engaged’ at the time and that he didn’t call an ambulance for Paul Jones because he feared being “victim number two.”
He admitted hitting Mr Jones over the head with a bill hook, but he said that it was an act of self-defence. He said that the bill hook was in the possession of Mr Jones and that he grabbed it from his hand.
"I pushed him and took it out of his hand and hit him on the head with it. I will be forever sorry about that. I had no idea that it was the bill hook that was in court.
"I just saw something black in his hand and grabbed it. I stumbled inside the door in to a load of blood a few feet inside the door. When I left (Paul Jones) was alive. His eyes were open." He denied stabbing Mr Jones.
Mr O'Hara said that he had a tattoo with Helen's name inked on his neck 72 hours after the death of Paul Jones. However, he insisted that he only did it to make an ex jealous.
In evidence, he denied the murder of Paul Jones and said that his death could be attributed to Helen Jones, Mr O'Hara was asked by Brendan Grehan, SC, for Helen Jones if there was anything he would not say to "do her (Helen) down."
Mr O'Hara answered : "Do her down? I am sitting here because of her. She killed her brother."
Mr O'Hara said that Mr Grehan's client had "murdered her brother."
The dogs and the cat and the rat all know Helen killed her brother.
Mr O'Hara gave evidence in which he claimed that he didn’t see a knife in the hands of Ms Jones at the house in Bandon Road.
He said that she did straddle the victim, and he thought she was punching him. He insisted that he only realised afterwards than Helen had been stabbing her brother.
He emphasised that it was his intention to get Helen away from the door of her brother's home in Bandon Road on the night in question. He stressed he saw Paul “swinging” for Helen and grabbed the bill hook from him in an act of self defence.
Mr O'Hara stated that Paul Jones was a nice man and that not a day has passed where he hasn't felt sorry for the deceased
"Maybe in some other life the Jones family will forgive me for my part in what happened that night."
Mr O'Hara admitted throwing a bill hook in the garden of a house in MacCurtain Villas on the evening of September 4th, 2019 but denied that he was trying to hide it.
“If I was trying to hide it I would have taken it and buried it.”
Under cross-examination by prosecuting barrister, Siobhan Lankford, Mr O’Hara admitted lying to gardaí during his interviews in the aftermath of the murder.
“I am here to speak the truth. I was a coward. I was lying then (to the gardaí).
The court heard that Mr O’Hara told gardai that bruises on his arm were caused by “rough sex.”
When interviewed in connection with the murder Mr O’Hara, he said that neither he or Ms Jones left the house on the evening of the 4th of September 2019. He claimed in his garda interviewed that he heard the news of the death of Mr Jones via media reports. He also emphasised to gardaí that he did not murder Paul Jones.
He also said in his garda statements that on the night of September 4th, 2019 he and Helen Jones watched The Chase, Coronation Street and other soaps. He claimed they went to bed where they watched the Netflix prison drama Orange is the New Black.
The trial also heard evidence from Chief State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan who carried out a postmortem on Paul Jones who was living alone in Bandon Road at the time of his death.
His body was found in the hallway of the house three days after his death by a family member who had become concerned for his welfare having not heard from him.
Dr Mulligan noted a chop wound to the head and a scalp injury. She said that Mr Jones received 25 stab wounds to his neck, upper arms, abdomen, chest, right armpit and back. The stab wounds ranged in size from 2-4 centimetres to 12 centimetres. Seven of the stab wounds were 10 centimetres or more in depth.
Mr Jones also had abrasions to his body, bruising, incised wounds and extensive bruising under the skin of the skull. His right lung had collapsed and there was damage to the right kidney.
Dr Mulligan said that blood loss would have been extreme and that the bleed to the brain was in itself potentially fatal. She told the court that Mr Jones also had defence type injuries to the hand.
Dr Mulligan stated the cause of death was a "chop wound to the head and multiple stab wounds".
Ms Jones declined to give defence evidence in the case.