Handyman denied to gardai that he assisted Patricia O'Connor's alleged murderer in aftermath

The trial continues

Alison O’Riordan

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Alison O’Riordan

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A handyman accused of impeding an investigation into the dismemberment of a retired grandmother denied to gardai that he assisted her alleged murderer in the aftermath. 

Father-of-two Keith Johnston also told interviewing detectives that he had not been “sucked in" and denied that accused Kieran Greene was "useless" when it came to labour and had needed his assistance. "Ah come on he is not a two-year-old," Mr Johnston told gardai.

He denied being at the site of a shallow grave in Wexford and when asked if he had to travel there to help Mr Greene, he replied: “What, dig her up, are you kidding? No."

The jury was today (Thurs) listening to the final three interviews given by Mr Johnston to gardai on September 26 and 27, 2017. Mr Johnston is the ex-partner of the deceased's daughter, Louise O'Connor and father to two of her five children. 

Mr Johnston (43), of Avonbeg Gardens, Tallaght, Dublin 24 is charged with impeding the apprehension or prosecution of Kieran Greene, knowing or believing him to have committed an arrestable offence, to wit the murder of Patricia O'Connor (61) on May 29, 2017.

The jury has heard that the body of Mrs O’Connor was dismembered into 15 separate parts that were found at nine different locations over a 30km range in the Dublin and Wicklow mountains between June 10 and 14, 2017. 

It is the prosecution's case that Mrs O'Connor was already lying dead in a shallow grave in Wexford but not yet dismembered when Mr Johnston assisted Mr Greene in purchasing various DIY items. It is also the State's contention that Mr Johnston redecorated the bathroom at Mountainview Park in order to destroy or conceal any evidence relating to the alleged murder of Mrs O'Connor. 

The Central Criminal Court trial has heard that while in custody, Mr Greene changed his account of killing and dismembering his partner's mother, six months after he was charged with her murder. He claimed in his last interview in December 2017 that Mr Johnston "made a plan" and cut up Mrs O'Connor's body parts beside a shallow grave in Wexford before directing him up the Wicklow mountains, where they both disposed of her remains. 

The court has heard that Mr Johnston was arrested in the upstairs bedroom of Mountainview Park on the morning of September 26, 2017 and brought to Bray Garda Station. Detective Garda David Connolly today told prosecution counsel Gerardine Small BL that he had conducted the third interview with Mr Johnston.

Gardai told Mr Johnston in this interview that Mrs O’Connor’s body had been cut up and asked him if he had any idea where Mr Greene had got the tools. “The shed is the best guess,” he replied, adding that there was a lot of “stuff” in the shed at Mountainview including hammers, chisels, tile cutters and pickaxes. 

Mr Johnston said Mr Greene had not used these tools and someone had given him a lend of a saw as he had seen it in the shed. “It showed up the week I was doing the shower step,” he said. The accused man told gardai that he did not know where Mr Greene had got the saw from as he never bought tools, only "cheap stuff" from the pound shop.

“He told me the name of a fella, an electrical saw, small blade, similar to a hedge trimmers. I’ve never seen anything like it. I was a bit curious about it, he showed me how to use it,” said Mr Johnston, adding that he had no knowledge of Mr Greene getting tools to dispose of Mrs O’Connor’s body.

Mr Johnston said he had used the electric saw to cut “new board” for the shower step. He agreed with gardai that he had gone shopping with Mr Greene for tools plenty of times to get “stuff” for the house.

Gardai asked him if he had any knowledge of Mr Greene “buying things” to cut up Mrs O’Connor’s body. “No, never did, would have remembered,” he replied.

Following this, detectives produced a number of receipts found in Mountainview from various DIY shops where items including a tow rope, utility knives, vinyl tape and a jerry can had been bought. Mr Johnston said he did not know why Mr Greene bought these items and could not shed any light on it.

The jury has heard that gardai viewed CCTV footage of two men, who they believed to be Mr Greene and Mr Johnston, purchasing a number of items including 30 extra-strong black rubbish sacks, a tenon saw and two hacksaws in B&Q on June 9, 2017. 

Mr Johnston said he and Mr Greene had bought two axes for the fire as they were going cheap. He said he also bought two saws as Mr Greene had “wrecked” his saw “off the screws". 

CCTV footage of Mr Johnston carrying a petrol can at Mr Price on June 9, 2017 was shown to the accused man. “I didn’t buy it, I don’t know, ask him,” he told gardai, adding that he was not curious and did not care.

Mr Johnston said he had not identified himself in the CCTV footage in the various DIY shops and it could be anyone.

Asked by gardai why he and Mr Greene went on "a shopping spree", Mr Johnston said it was to replace lost or damaged tools from fishing and Mr Greene had replaced his hacksaw as he had “wrecked” his other one.

He said he did not know where “all these tools” were now and assumed gardai had taken them from the shed at Mountainview.

Gardai asked Mr Johnston why had he not told them about the items purchased on June 9. “I told you already where I was…..I know for a fact I said B&Q and Woodies, fuck off you lying swines,” he replied.

Detectives told Mr Johnston that they had asked him specifically what he did on June 9 and he had not told them. “I fucking did, I told these two coppers in Rathfarnham,” he said.

He denied he had been “sucked" into this incident and told gardai to” go back living” in their fantasy world.

Gardai told him that they believed the first body part belonging to Mrs O’Connor was found in the Wicklow mountains on June 10 and it had been put there late on June 9 or early on the morning of June 10. Mr Johnston said he was at home on the night of June 9.

He was asked about Mrs O’Connor’s head, which had been found in a black plastic bag. Gardai put it to him that those plastic bags had been bought in B&Q on the evening he was with Mr Greene.

“Where are they now?” asked gardai.

“Last time I saw them was when I was in the car,” he replied.

He denied he had been at the shallow grave in Wexford on June 9 saying: “no way”.

“Did you have to go down to help Mr Greene?” asked gardai. “What, dig her up, are you kidding. No. I told you everything I know. The answer is the answer and it’s not going to change. I’ve told you 20 times,” he emphasised.

Mr Johnston said there was “no way” Louise O’Connor or their daughter Stephanie would have got involved "in a murder".

He denied he had assisted Mr Greene in the aftermath and said he knew nothing about it.

Gardai put it to the accused man that Mr Greene did not know what he was doing as he did not know one end of a saw from the other. “Ah come on he is not a two-year-old,” he replied.

“You knew Mr Greene was useless when it came to labour and he needed your assistance,” pressed gardai. He denied this and told garda he was not involved in any murder.

He said there was not “a hope in hell” that his DNA would turn up in Wexford and again denied cleaning up the scene.

He refused to answer gardai when they asked him why he did not tell them about going shopping saying: “Your twisting everything, making up your own theories that we all murderers."

 He said there was nothing going on with his and his ex-partner Louise O’Connor and it was all in the past. The jury heard that Mr Johnston was rearrested on May 30, 2018.

Mr Johnston has pleaded not (NOT) guilty to assisting Mr Greene in the purchase of various implements at Woodie's, Mr Price, B&Q and Shoe Zone, Tallaght, Dublin 24 on June 9, 2017, which were to be used in the concealment of the remains of Mrs O'Connor. 

Mr Johnston also denies engaging in the refurbishment of a bathroom at Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 between May 31, 2017 and June 9, 2017, in order to destroy or conceal any evidence relating to the murder of Mrs O'Connor. 

Mr Greene (34) has pleaded not guilty to murdering Mrs O'Connor at her home in Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 on May 29, 2017.

The deceased's daughter Louise O'Connor (41) has pleaded not (NOT) guilty to agreeing to or acquiescing in her daughter Stephanie O'Connor disguising herself as Patricia O'Connor at Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 on May 29, 2017 in order to conceal the fact that Patricia O'Connor was dead. 

The deceased granddaughter Stephanie O'Connor (22) has pleaded not (NOT) guilty to disguising herself as Mrs O'Connor at Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14 at a point in time after her murder on May 29, 2017 in order to conceal the fact that she was already dead. 

Evidence has been given that Mr Greene walked into Rathfarnham Garda Station on June 12, 2017 and told a detective that he had done "something terrible" and dismembered the body of Mrs O'Connor on his own. However, the accused man told gardai on December 9 that he had taken “the rap” and felt he was being set-up, as his girlfriend Louise O'Connor subsequently started going back out with her ex-boyfriend Mr Johnston.

The trial continues this afternoon before Mr Justice Paul McDermott and a jury of six men and six women.