05 Oct 2022

'Just me, God and that woman': Kilkenny murder-accused refused to give gardai reason for killing

Trevor Rowe (30), with an address at Abbey Street, Kilkenny has pleaded not guilty to murder


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A Kilkenny man accused of murdering a pensioner in her own home told gardai that he had killed the woman but refused to say why, telling detectives it was to do with 'no one; just me, God and that woman'.

When asked by gardai why he could not tell them what he did to 71-year-old Ann Butler, Trevor Rowe replied: 'because it's disgusting', his trial has heard.

Mr Rowe also told officers that he was going to return to Ann Butler's house 'to cut her up and bury her legs one place and bury her arms somewhere else' but instead made anonymous phone calls to gardai so they could find her body, his Central Criminal Court trial has heard.

When gardai asked the accused if he accepted that he had killed Ms Butler, he replied: "Yes, I did alright. I accepted I killed a woman, that is all I'm going to say."

Mr Rowe (30), with an address at Abbey Street, Kilkenny has pleaded not guilty to murdering 71-year-old Ms Butler at her home at Maudlin Street, Kilkenny on March 20, 2020.

In his first interview, Mr Rowe told gardai that he had made anonymous phone calls to gardai because he just wanted "the woman found" and was ashamed of what he had done. The court has heard evidence that on March 25 2020, 999 calls were made, including one where a male said he murdered someone and that the location of the body was on Maudlin Street in Kilkenny.

Today (WEDNESDAY), Detective Sergeant Brian Sheeran, told Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, that the third of four interviews took place with Mr Rowe in Kilkenny Garda Station on March 26.  At the outset of the third interview, Mr Rowe accepted that when gardai called to his house the previous day, he said: "I killed a woman. I murdered a woman. I slit her throat and stuck a knife in her head."

Gardai put it to the accused that they 'honestly did not believe' him at the time and asked Mr Rowe why he thought this was. "Because you know me, a lot of people wouldn't believe I would do something like that cause I'm not that type of person," he replied. 

"I'd nearly help an old person with the shopping before I'd do something so stupid, devious, horrible and inhumane," he added. 

"I'm going to be sitting up in prison doing life," said Mr Rowe, adding that he already knew 'lifers' in prison, 'loads of them'. 

When gardai asked Mr Rowe if he accepted he had killed Ms Butler, the accused said: "Yes, I did alright. I accepted I killed a woman; that is all I'm going to say".

"I know she is dead and I can't bring her back and I'm sorry for that but I can't bring her back," continued Mr Rowe. 

When gardai put it to Mr Rowe that they were trying to establish why Ms Butler had died, the accused said "but you're going to get when get autopsy [sic]". "You don't need me to specifically tell you what you are going to know in a day or two," he added. 

Gardai told the accused that they did not know why he had murdered Ms Butler. "You don't have to know cause it's nothing to do with you; plain and simple," he said.

Detectives asked the defendant who had it to do with. "No one, just me, God and that woman," he replied.

The officers said they had to establish why Ms Butler died the way she had. "Yeah, it's your job to do that but I'm just telling you that you're not going to get it from me," said Mr Rowe. 

"That's not very fair to Ann Butler and her family," said gardai, to which the accused replied "who cares about them, I don't". 

At one stage, Mr Rowe said he was not talking anymore because he was only 'digging a deeper hole' for himself. 

Gardai suggested to the accused that the hole could not get any deeper. "Oh believe me it can," he replied.

"Why do you think it can get deeper, you have already told us you killed a woman?" asked gardai. "I know I did yeah, I'm after saying 101 times and I'm sick of saying it now. I told you where the body was, I told you where I killed her, that's all I'm doing now, I have enough," replied Mr Rowe. 

Detectives put it to the accused that there was nothing more serious than taking someone's life. "You don't think I don't know that," he replied. 

Again Mr Rowe repeated that gardai would not find out from him as to how Ms Butler died. 

"That's not very fair to the Butlers," said gardai. 

In reply, Mr Rowe said: "The Butler family know their mother is dead and that's it". 

The accused later told gardai that he was "going to go back and cut her up and bury her legs one place and bury her arms somewhere else but you know I'm not like that and I rang you and told you to go and find her". "If I hadn't come to you, you probably would have had another dead body on a slab," he added.

He later told officers to stop talking about Ms Butler as she was "gone" and there was nothing he could do about it. "You are not going to find out off me what happened in that house, what happened in that house is going to stay between that person and me, that one Ann, I don't even know her name, that's terrible," he continued. 

When gardai informed Mr Rowe that Ms Butler was in a morgue in Dublin, the accused told officers that they were "guilt tripping" him into a confession. 

The accused stood at the window of the interview room and began to cry when gardai told him that Ms Butler had six stab wounds in her back and one to her neck. When asked if he had put something in the deceased's mouth, the accused just sobbed, sat on the windowsill and then nodded yes. 

Mr Rowe agreed with gardai that the deceased still had many years left ahead of her and didn't deserve what happened to her. 

When asked why Mr Rowe could not tell them what he did to Ms Butler, the accused said "because it's disgusting" and nodded in agreement that his actions had frightened him. When gardai showed the crucifix to the accused, Mr Rowe said he did not want it near him but would not tell officers why. 

Gardai put it to the accused that he had murdered Ms Butler and had the "audacity to take the crucifix [depiction of Jesus]" and leave the cross in her house, which they said fitted "perfectly together". 

"Do they?" asked the accused to which the gardai said they did. 

Under cross-examination, Det Sgt Sheeran agreed with Kathleen Leader SC, defending, that her client had no connection with the 'Kinahan gang'. 

The trial has previously heard that Mr Rowe told a detective that he had committed "five other murders", was working for the Kinahan Cartel and received €5,500 "for doing a murder".

Following this, Claire Greaney from Forensic Science Ireland testified that a timber cross was recovered from Ms Butler's house on Maudlin Street and a "Jesus figure" was found in Mr Rowe's apartment on Abbey Street. She examined the timber cross and the "Jesus figure" to see if they were originally from the same crucifix unit. The witness said her findings provided "extremely strong support" that the timber cross and "Jesus figure" were originally from the same crucifix unit rather than not. 

Detective Sergeant James O'Brien has told the trial he saw that the body of Ms Butler had lacerations to the neck, an injury to the head and her left ear appeared to be missing when he entered her home.

The jury has also heard that Mr Rowe told gardai: "I thought it was going to be an easy touch, what have I done."

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

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