Cameron Reilly murder trial: Accused claims he 'blacked out' due to drugs

Jury also heard on Thursday Aaron Connolly, of Willistown, Drumcar, Co Louth, denied that anything sexual happened between him and Mr Reilly and told gardaí that he was "straight".
Cameron Reilly murder trial: Accused claims he 'blacked out' due to drugs

Ryan Dunne

The now 23-year-old man charged with the murder of Cameron Reilly told gardaí that he could not remember what he was doing during a "missing hour" on the night the Louth teenager died violently as he had taken a combination of drugs that made him black out.

The jury at the Central Criminal Court also heard on Thursday that Aaron Connolly, of Willistown, Drumcar, Co Louth, denied that anything sexual happened between him and Mr Reilly and told gardaí that he was "straight".

However, on Wednesday at the trial Mr Connolly's defence counsel made a formal admission that the accused gave oral sex to Mr Reilly.

Mr Connolly has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Cameron Reilly (18) at Shamrock Hill, Dunleer on May 26th, 2018.

The court on Thursday heard from Garda Sgt Paul Sweeney, based at Drogheda Garda Station in 2018, who gave evidence to counsel for the prosecution Tessa White BL concerning Mr Connolly’s interviews with gardaí.

Drinking in field

Sgt Sweeney said that Mr Connolly told gardaí that he was drinking in a field with a group of people on the night, including Mr Reilly, and after a few hours people started leaving. “I was mangled,” he said.

Sgt Sweeney said Mr Connolly confirmed to the gardaí that he and Mr Reilly went to a local takeaway with a group of friends around 00.25 and they stayed for about ten minutes. Mr Connolly said he and Mr Reilly left the others and the last time he saw Mr Reilly was at the driveway into the Beechwood estate in Dunleer. He said that after leaving Mr Reilly, he got home at 1.40am and did not meet anyone on the walk home.

Sgt Sweeney said that it was put to the accused that there was a missing hour unaccounted for in his statement. Sgt Sweeney said that when asked where he went for that hour, Mr Connolly replied that he "went to get a bag of weed".

Sgt Sweeney said that when asked why he was only telling the gardaí this now, Mr Connolly replied: "I didn’t want to say I was smoking weed."

Mr Connolly also said that the person he bought the drugs from would "probably deny it". He said that he used a friend's phone to text this person at 7pm on May 25th and asked him to meet at 1am.

Sgt Sweeney said that the statement of another man was read to the accused in the garda station, to which Mr Connolly said: "Obviously he’s not going to say he’s a drug dealer, he’s gone into denial."

Missing hour

Sgt Sweeney said that Mr Connolly said he did not know what he did for that hour after leaving Mr Reilly.

"I know I didn’t kill him," he told gardaí. "I’d know if I killed someone."

Sgt Sweeney said that Mr Connolly told the gardaí he did not know what happened to Mr Reilly, nor did he know what happened in this missing hour. He said his next memory was walking by a church at 1.45am.

Sgt Sweeney said that Mr Connolly told them: "That hour that I’m missing, I can’t remember what I was doing. The reason I don’t remember is I was taking drugs."

Sgt Sweeney said Mr Connolly said he took two grammes of cocaine and half a gramme of MDMA. The accused told them that this would sometimes cause him to black out.

Sgt Sweeney said that the accused denied that anything sexual happened between him and Mr Reilly. Sgt Sweeney said the accused told gardaí he was "straight" and had never experimented sexually.

"I blacked out after I left Cameron," Mr Connolly said. "I told you everything I know. I’d know if I killed someone."

DNA

Sgt Sweeney said that the gardaí put it to Mr Connolly that his DNA was found on Mr Reilly's penis, to which Mr Connolly replied: "It must be wrong."

Sgt Sweeney said that Mr Connolly did not accept that it was his DNA and said that the forensic report was wrong.

Sgt Sweeney also said that Mr Connolly initially offered no explanation as to why his DNA was found on the neck of Mr Reilly, but the accused later said that Mr Reilly was taller than him so Mr Connolly had to reach up and pull him down for the purpose of a group photograph that was taken. Sgt Sweeney said that Mr Connolly could not account for the fact that his DNA was found on Mr Reilly's penis.

"It’s not me, I know I didn’t kill him. I’d know if I killed him," Mr Connolly said.

Sgt Sweeney said that it was put to the accused that a mark on Mr Reilly's face was consistent with someone left-handed striking him across the face.

"I never did anything wrong, I didn't kill him," said Mr Connolly.

Sgt Sweeney said that Mr Connolly denied fighting with Mr Reilly and also denied touching his penis or putting his penis into his mouth.

In response to cross-examination from defence counsel Lily Buckley BL, Sgt Sweeney confirmed that Mr Connolly's mother told gardaí that her son had dyscalculia, which causes trouble with numbers and time.

Detective Superintendent John O'Flaherty, based in Drogheda Garda Station, gave evidence to counsel for the prosecution Dean Kelly SC that an anonymous letter was posted to Dunleer Garda Station during the investigation, which contained a third-hand account about two people speaking in a pub.

He said that a garda decision-making model was used to evaluate what was in the letter.

Suspect

In response to a question from Mr Kelly, Supt O’Flaherty said that the gardaí only ever had one suspect in the case and that was Aaron Connolly.

Defence counsel Michael Bowman SC asked Supt O’Flaherty to confirm that the letter was written by someone who said they had overheard "a young girl and a young lad" talking in the pub saying that they saw Mr Reilly being killed. Mr Bowman asked if the gardaí had obtained CCTV from the pub, to which Supt O’Flaherty said no CCTV was obtained.

Supt O’Flaherty said that the letter was assessed and evaluated and the decision was made not to do anything.

Mr Bowman referred to another letter received by the gardaí in which someone said: "I know they took pictures of his lower parts after he was killed".

Supt O’Flaherty said that there had been so much rumour in the wake of Mr Reilly's death and no action was taken concerning this letter.

This concluded the case for the prosecution. Mr Bowman told the court that the defence would not be going into evidence.

At the start of the trial, Mr Kelly said it is the prosecution’s case that Cameron Reilly went back to a field with Aaron Connolly and at a point between 12.40am and 1.40am on May 26th, 2018 Mr Connolly caused the injuries and that he intentionally brought about the death of Cameron Reilly.

The closing speeches in the trial will take place on Friday before Mr Justice Tony Hunt and the jury of seven women and five men.

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