Closing arguments in case of man accused of murdering prostitute in Athlone

Marie Greene
Marie Greene

The jury has been hearing closing speeches in the trial of a retired member of the defence forces accused of murdering a prostitute in Co.Westmeath four years ago.

Father-of-three Jimmy Devaney (67) of Millbrook Avenue, Monksland, Athlone has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Marie Greene in Westmeath on February 13, 2011.

It is the State’s case that Mr Devaney murdered Marie Greene because she had been blackmailing for money or she would tell his wife.

The prosecution says he planned the killing and brought a knife with him when he drove out to Anagorta Bog with her.

But he defence says that she would regularly go to that bog when meeting up with clients and they say that the knife could have been stolen from his jeep by her.

Alex Owens SC prosecuting said that anyone could find themselves in a difficult situation but that did not excuse Mr Devaney. 

“Human life is important and you only get one shot at it,” Mr Owens told the jury.

Mr Owens told the members of the jury that they were going to be asked to decide if it was reasonably possible the accused could have killed her in circumstances where as a result of being provoked he had a sudden an temporary loss of self-control.

“There comes a point with all of us where we are subjected to stresses and strains where we might snap,” he said.

He told the jury that the defence of provocation was only a partial one which allows for a verdict of manslaughter to be returned.

Jimmy Devaney

“I anticipate that you will have little difficulty in finding that Mr Devaney killed Marie Greene and that he intended to do so,” said Mr Owens.

He told the jury that he did not lose control and that the killing pointed to a desire for revenge, some forward-planning and calculation.

Mr Owens told the jury that they would have to look now at Mr Devaney and see if there is evidence where there was a sudden and temporary loss of self-control.

He said Mr Devaney brought the knife to the scene with the express purpose of killing Marie Grenne.

Counsel said that Mr Devaney gave the account to the gardai that in fact Marie Greene brought this particular knife to this event.

He suggested that the accused did so in order to distance himself from the fact that he had brought that knife with him.

He reminded the jury of the evidence of Mr Devaney’s brother-in-law Peter Boardman, a former butcher, who was firm in his evidence that he had left the knife behind in the accused’s house.

Counsel said he was someone who had shown himself to be somebody who was quite in control as he went back to playing poker that night and returned to the scene to dispose of the body.

In relation to Mr Devaney’s Garda interviews he said he appeared to be underplaying his sexual relationship with Marie Greene and was “in a fog about when he was back out at this particular scene.”

“Mr Devaney was playing poker, he was holding back the cards,” Mr Owens told the jury.

He said that he gave the Gardai a “cock and bull story” for the knife.

Mr Owens said if they believed there was forward-planning, that was the end of it and it’s not a case of Mr Devaney losing control.

Giollaiosa O’ Lideadha SC defending said there was no evidence that Mr Devaney had planned the killing. 

He said provocation and manslaughter were not mentioned in the prosecution’s opening speech even though it was clear that the defence were relying on the garda interviews with the accused.

“I want to assure you manslaughter is an extremely serious offence,” said Mr O’Lideadha.

Counsel said this was a most serious offence which his client had admitted to in interview with Gardai.

He said there had been public debate in recent times about prostitution and said that if the jury members had strong views about men who use prostitutes then maybe it would be easier to see the circumstances his client was in.

He told the jury that there was evidence Marie Greene had stolen items from other people’s cars previously and may have done so with the knife.

He asked the jury that if the knife was part of the plan then why did his client throw it back in the boot of his jeep afterwards.

Counsel said the fact that a call was made from a public phone box did not mean it was part of a plan.

Mr O’ Lideadha will continue his closing speech to the jury this morning/tomorrow (WED).

Earlier Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan asked the jury of six men and six women if they had discussed the trial with each other or with any third parties to which they replied ‘no’. 

The jury members were sent to their room and when they returned Ms Justice Heneghan told them that one of their number had been discharged.

The judge is due to give her direction to the remaining six women and five men today/tomorrow.