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Court hears accused wanted victim “all to himself” and was “suffocating”

Olivia Dunlea
Olivia Dunlea

The sister of a woman killed by a man on trial for her murder, has told a jury she felt the accused wanted her sister "all to himself” and was “suffocating” towards her during their relationship.

Darren Murphy (40), of Dan Desmond Villas, Passage West, Co Cork has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Olivia Dunlea (36) at Pembroke Crescent, Passage West, Co Cork on February 17 2013 but has admitted killing her.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has not accepted Mr Murphy's guilty plea to manslaughter.

Outlining the prosecution's case to a jury at the Central Criminal Court on Tuesday, senior counsel Thomas Creed, for the DPP, said Darren Murphy was Olivia Dunlea's boyfriend at the time of the offence.

Giving evidence today, Ms Dunlea's sister, Ann Power, told Mr Creed, that she had the impression Mr Murphy wanted to be with Olivia “24 hours a day”. It was “suffocating”, she said.

Ms Power said Mr Murphy wanted to be alone with her sister all of the time. “I felt he wanted her all to himself as such.”

She said her sister had great time for Mr Murphy.

About 2am on the date in question, Ms Power said she got up due to her baby and she saw a missed call on her phone from her sister.

“I tried to ring her back but the phone was off. I was concerned because it wouldn't be like Olivia to ring in the middle of the night.”

Ms Power said she rang Mr Murphy who told her that he and Ms Dunlea had had a fight and that the house was on fire.

At the scene, Ms Power said she told Mr Murphy that she wanted to know where her sister was and what happened to her. Mr Murphy just shouted at her, Ms Power said, and told her to "fuck off".

When she asked Mr Murphy why his clothes were on inside out, he replied that they had been in a pile next to his bed - where he told people he had gone after he and Ms Dunlea had had a fight.

Under cross examination from Michael Delaney SC, for the defence, Ms Power said it was truthful to say Mr Murphy was "besotted" with Ms Dunlea.

Mr Creed has told the jury that on Saturday, February 16, 2013, Ms Dunlea and Mr Murphy went to the Rochestown Inn public house in Cork where they met some friends and had a few drinks.

Taxi driver Michael Ahern told Mr Creed today that he was working on the night in question and was at the Rochestown Inn around midnight when Mr Murphy asked him could he take he and Olivia to her home.

"He said it was urgent," Mr Ahern said.

The witness told Mr Creed that he knew another taxi driver was supposed to be on his way to collect them from the Rochestown Inn. "It was originally his job but I was free".

He said Mr Murphy got into the cab and sat in the rear. Ms Dunlea sat in the front passenger seat.

When asked about the atmosphere in the cab, Mr Ahern said Ms Dunlea was talking, Mr Murphy wasn't.

Ms Dunlea was in a happy mood, laughing and joking while Mr Murphy “seemed upset. Like he was boiling up inside”.

“You could tell they had drink taken” but they weren't falling about the place.

At one point, Ms Dunlea leaned back, put her arm on Mr Murphy's leg and said to him “are you alright”, Mr Ahern told Mr Creed.

Under cross examination, Mr Ahern told Mr Delaney for the defence, that Ms Dunlea had said to him “I thought Fás (another taxi driver) was picking us up”.

Mr Ahern said he told her that Fás was (supposed to pick them up) but he was closer and they wouldn't be waiting as long if they went with him.

When asked whether the description of Mr Murphy boiling up inside was an exaggeration, Mr Ahern said "it was frosty in the car".

“I got the impression he was angry. There was tension in the car.”

Garda John Forde, scenes of crime examiner, told Mr Creed that the body of Ms Dunlea was lying face down in the double bed of an upstairs bedroom.

Garda Ford said there had been two separate fires in Ms Dunlea's house - one in the bedroom and one on the kitchen table - and there was no link between the two.

The trial continues today before a jury of seven men and five women with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy presiding.