The man accused of murdering Cameron Reilly after the pair had been drinking together in a field with friends, told gardaí he and the teenager went in separate directions at the end of the night, the Central Criminal Court has heard.
Aaron Connolly said that after the pair parted, he “never looked back” to see which way Cameron Reilly went.
In a witness statement to gardaí, Mr Connolly said he was drinking Bulmers on the night of May 25th and was drunk, but “knew what I was at”. He said he remembered most of what happened but said the walk home was “a bit vague”.
The 22-year-old, of Willistown, Drumcar has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Cameron Reilly (18) at Shamrock Hill, Dunleer on May 26th, 2018.
In his evidence to the court, Detective Garda Donal Corbett from Drogheda Garda Station told counsel for the prosecution, Dean Kelly SC, that he took a witness statement from Aaron Connolly on May 26th, 2018.
Garda Corbett told the court that in his statement, Aaron Connolly said he had been in Dunleer to “meet friends and have a few drinks” on the evening of Friday, May 25th. He said he went to meet with a group of friends who had arranged to meet in a field in Dunleer after finishing work in Lordship.
Mr Connolly said he was drinking Bulmers on the night and was “drunk, but I knew what I was at”. He said he remembered most of what happened, with the exception of the walk home which was “a bit vague”.
Mr Connolly said at around 11pm or 11.30pm a group left the field and went to Enzio’s chipper. He said they stayed there for some time before all seven of them walked back down.
He said five of the others in the group made their way home and he and Cameron went up towards the Beechwood housing estate. In his statement, Mr Connolly said he then went left down by the laneway which leads towards a Centra shop and Cameron Reilly went the other way. Connolly said Cameron told him he was “going home to bed as he was drunk”.
“I never looked back to see what way he went,” he added in his statement. Connolly said he then walked home to Drumcar.
His sister told him the next morning that a body had been found.
Connolly said he came in to Dunleer at around 2.30pm the next day and there were stories going around saying that Cameron was choked or strangled. He said this was the “last thing” he was expecting to hear.
Earlier, Garda Thomas Murray from Dundalk Garda Station told how he found Cameron Reilly’s passport during searches of the area in the days following the discovery of the body.
The court heard extensive searches were carried out running from May 27 until June 14.
Garda Murray said he was part of the Divisional Search Team involved in searches of the area following the discovery of the body.
He told the court he was searching a large area of briars and thorns on May 29 when he hit one of the briars and a passport fell down.
He said the passport was that of Cameron Reilly with a date of birth of December 18, 1999.
The passport was discovered about 10 or 15 metres away from where the body was found, Garda Murray added.
The jury was also shown CCTV footage of the movements of both Aaron Connolly and Cameron Reilly at various locations in Dunleer on the night of May 25th and in the early hours of May 26th.
In his opening speech at the beginning of the trial, Mr Kelly said it is the prosecution’s case that at a point between 12.40am and 1.40am on May 26 Mr Connolly intentionally brought about the death of Cameron Reilly.
He told the jury there could be no doubt that Mr Reilly was alive just before 1am and that he subsequently died violently. Counsel said it was for them to decide whether or not Aaron Connolly did it.
The trial continues on Tuesday before Mr Justice Tony Hunt and a jury of seven women and five men.