30 Sept 2022

Kilkenny murder trial: Gardai found accused man hysterically shouting

Kilkenny Kilkenny

Central Criminal Court

Gardai who called to a murder accused's home found him hysterically shouting that he had 'slit her throat, buried a knife in her head' and that this was his 'fifth one', his trial has heard. 

Another garda witness told the trial that he also heard the accused say: "I murdered her, I done her head in and slit her throat. I could tell you about five more too". He said the accused then lay on the ground and cried. 

Trevor Rowe (29), with an address at Abbey Street, Kilkenny has pleaded not guilty to murdering 71-year-old Ann Butler at her home at Maudlin Street, Kilkenny on March 20, 2020. 

Giving evidence today (Wednesday), Garda Kevin Seymour told John O'Kelly SC, prosecuting, that he was in a patrol car when he got a call from the control centre on March 25 at 5.25pm. He was told that a man claiming to be God had said he murdered someone last Friday and that her body was in the second house at the back of Langtons Hotel. 

Gda Seymour said because gardai had such little information they had conducted welfare checks on Maudlin Street and nobody had any concerns for their neighbours. 

The witness said he got another call from the control centre stating they had received a call from a phone belonging to a Mr Noel Pierce and the dispatcher was informed that if gardai did not take the call seriously then there would be another murder that night.

Mr Pierce has testified that he was living at Cathedral Square in Kilkenny on March 25, 2020 when Mr Rowe called to his house after 5.45pm without any notice. The witness said that Mr Rowe went into the toilet and used his phone.

Gda Seymour said he went to Mr Pierce's house and gardai asked him for his mobile number, which matched one of the numbers that had rang the control centre. Mr Pierce's phone was then seized.

The witness said he then went to the house of Mr Rowe's mother and afterwards to the accused's address at Abbey Street.

Gda Seymour said he knocked on the door, which was ajar, and a man in the downstairs apartment told them that he shared accommodation with "some Rowe fella" upstairs.

The witness could hear shouting and banging coming from upstairs and said his colleague Garda Bernard Power entered the premises before coming out with Mr Rowe.

The garda said Mr Rowe was quite hysterical, seemed to be intoxicated, had his head bowed and was shouting: "I slit her throat, I buried a knife in her head, that's my fifth one and I can't take it". 

Gda Seymour said Mr Rowe was brought to Maudlin Street and began to point towards a corner house, which they had checked prior to meeting Mr Rowe that day. The witness said the accused was saying "No, no, no" at the time. 

"He kept pointing at the house and broke down on the ground. We went to the house and upon opening the door a strong odour came from it," he said.

Gda Seymour said the lights were on in the hallway and in the first bedroom but not in the living room. There were blood-stains along the wall in the hall. 

The witness said one of his colleagues entered the living room and stated that there was a body lying on the couch. 

Under cross-examination, defence counsel Kathleen Leader SC asked the witness to explain what he meant about her client 'breaking down'.

"He just went down on his knees and started roaring uncontrollably. He wasn't roaring anything in particular, just crying very hysterically," said Gda Seymour.

Garda Daniel Keane told Mr O'Kelly that he was driving another patrol car on March 25 and was aware of the anonymous 999 calls made to the control centre. The witness said he was present when gardai attended Ms Rowe's house and she had asked officers whether her son had "done something terrible". Ms Rowe told gardai that Trevor no longer lived with her and was now living at Abbey Street.

Gda Keane said he heard noises and shouting coming from the upstairs apartment at Abbey Street. The witness said gardai entered the premises and Mr Rowe was upstairs in the dark. The accused appeared intoxicated and was shoving something down the back of his trousers at the time but was told to stop by gardai. The accused then dropped two screwdrivers from his hands, he said.

The witness said he heard Mr Rowe say: "I murdered her, I done her head in and slit her throat. I could tell you about five more too". The accused then lay on the ground and cried. 

Mr O'Kelly asked the witness if gardai had asked the accused who he had killed. "He didn't make a response and wasn't making sense," he replied. 

Gda Keane said the defendant got into the patrol car which was driven to Maudlin Street. Gardai knocked at a house with a red door but someone came to the door and indicated to officers that everything was ok there. 

Mr Rowe and gardai proceeded to walk up Maudlin Street. When they turned onto a lane, Mr Rowe fell to his knees and said "I didn't mean to" before pointing at a corner house in the courtyard. The court heard this was not Ms Butler's house but the one beside it was.

Under cross-examination, Gda Keane agreed with Ms Leader that Mr Rowe said he had murdered a woman when they went to his apartment and had laid on the ground crying. He also agreed that her client was not making any sense at that stage. 

The witness further agreed that Mr Rowe had looked confused when he pointed out a house with a red door only for officers to be told everything was OK there.

When the accused fell to his knees on Maudlin Street and broke down, the witness said he heard Mr Rowe say he "didn't mean to" and then point in the direction of Ms Butler's house. 

The trial continues this afternoon before Ms Justice Karen O'Connor and a jury of seven men and five women. 

Previous trial updates:

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