Aaron Connolly lied from the start because he murdered his friend, murder trial told

Prosecuting Counsel said everything Aaron Connolly had said, from the moment he and Cameron Reilly left the rest of the group, was “self-serving nonsense”
Aaron Connolly lied from the start because he murdered his friend, murder trial told

Fiona Magennis

Aaron Connolly, the man accused of murdering teenager Cameron Reilly who was found dead in a field four years ago, “lied from the beginning of this investigation to the end” because he murdered his friend, a barrister for the State has told a murder trial jury.

In his closing speech to the jury on Friday, prosecuting counsel Dean Kelly SC said Aaron Connolly didn’t lie because he experimented sexually with Cameron Reilly or because he had been smoking weed on the night.

Mr Connolly lied, counsel said, because “he murdered his friend Cameron Reilly in that field”.

He said everything Aaron Connolly had said, from the moment he and Cameron Reilly left the rest of the group, was “self-serving nonsense”.

“I suggest to you that you are required to look closely at all of the lies told in this case and ask yourselves what kind of liar is Mr Connolly, because liar he most certainly is,” Mr Kelly told the jury. “He has lied from the beginning of this investigation to the end. Top to bottom, back to front, it’s lies.”

He said the “ constant fox-like evolution” of the lies told by Mr Connolly rebuts the suggestion that a young person might lie to protect his personal sexual preferences. He contended that “rationality, reason and intelligence” permits only one verdict in this case and that is guilty of murder.

However, in his closing statement to the jury, Michael Bowman SC defending, said “strategic lies” were told by several young people who were there on the night. He said people had lied about drug and alcohol use in a murder trial because they were afraid.

Strategic lies

“Strategic lies are being told. I’m going to ask you to juxtapose them to show that in circumstances like that telling the truth can be difficult,” Mr Bowman said. “The defendant was 18, in a garda station, locked in a cell when he’s not being interviewed by gardaí.”

He said a number of the teenagers “weren’t being entirely honest” and, counsel submitted, that could be said to be “self-serving” as they were “minimising exposure”.

Mr Bowman said this is a case where “inferences loom large”.

He told the jury that if those inferences are equal then they must fall in favour of the defence. He said the law goes further and those inferences don’t have to be equal; if the more likely one is the prosecution and the less likely one is the defence then they must find in favour of the defence, he said.

During the closing statements of the trial of the now 23-year-old, Mr Kelly said, in a sense this case was about lies and about science. He said lies are the subject of “grey areas” but science tells the truth.

People lie for all kinds of reasons, Mr Kelly said, but science tells us certain things and it tells us those things with absolute certainty.”

“Lies are something that can be put under the microscope at least metaphorically. I suggest to you that you are required to look closely at all of the lies told in this case and ask yourselves what kind of liar is Mr Connolly because liar he most certainly is. He has lied from the beginning of this investigation to the end.”

“Everything he has told you from the moment that they left the group is nonsense and it’s self-serving nonsense.”

Death

Mr Kelly said it was up to the jury to decide whether Aaron Connolly lied to conceal his privacy or because at some time between 12.40am and 1.40am he asphyxiated Cameron Reilly, his friend, and left him dead or dying in that cold field.

Counsel said Connolly lied with “precise details”, all of which were “invented in the mind of a man weaving a story to defend his own interests”. The second aspect of the way Mr Connolly lied, he said, was the “constant evolution” of the lies as the evidence from investigating gardaí was skilfully and carefully put in front of him.

“There is artfulness and care in the way Mr Connolly lies, there’s rich detail in it," he said adding the detail of that rebuts and "absolutely destroys" the suggestion that these are lies told for an "honest or understandable reason".

“These are lies told by a murderer to protect a murderer,” Mr Kelly told the jury.

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

Mr Justice Tony Hunt will give his directions to the jury of seven women and five men on Monday.

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