Dismembered body in canal murder accused returned for trial

Paul Wells
Paul Wells

A DUBLIN man charged with the murder of Kenneth O'Brien, whose dismembered body was found in a suitcase in a canal, has been returned for trial to the Central Criminal Court.

A book of evidence was served on Paul Wells (48) from Barnamore Park in Finglas, when he appeared at Cloverhill District Court on Wednesday.

JCB driver Kenneth O'Brien (33) from Lealand Road in Clondalkin in Dublin was reported missing on Jan. 15 last after he left his home telling family members he was going to work. The father-of-one had recently come back from Australia where he had been employed for three years.

The following day his torso was found in a suitcase by walkers at the Grand Canal near Cellbridge in Co. Kildare. Investigating gardai carried out a search operation resulting in other body parts being found in bags in the canal. DNA tests confirmed the remains were those of Mr O'Brien.

In February, father-of-five Paul Wells Snr was charged with the murder of Kenneth O'Brien on or about Jan.15 and Jan. 16 last. The murder is alleged to have occurred at the defendant's address.

He was remanded in custody and faced his tenth hearing yesterday/today (wed) when he appeared at Cloverhill District Court.

Dressed in a dark grey top, light grey tracksuit bottoms and white runners, the book of evidence was served on him by Garda Sergeant Gerard Moore of Leixlip station.

Mr Wells, who stood silently during the proceedings, then began leafing through the book of evidence which was several inches thick. A State solicitor said the DPP has directed that Mr Wells must be returned to the Central Criminal Court.

The accused continued flicking through the book of evidence stopping briefly to read random pages as the court dealt with procedural issues. Judge Conal Gibbons then told Mr Wells he was sending him forward for trial to appear at the next term of the Central Criminal Court, which begins in October.

Mr Wells nodded and the judge then warned him he was obliged to notify the prosecution within 14 days if he intended to use an alibi in his defence.

Judge Gibbons told him that if he did not understand he should speak to his solicitor. Mr Wells nodded again and defence solicitor Kieran Coway told the judge that he would explain it to his client.

Judge Gibbons granted legal aid to Mr Conway and agreed that this would allow for representation of junior and senior counsel at the trial. Mr Wells then began looking through the book of evidence again as an order was made directing gardai to provide disclosure of video evidence to the defence. The judge also said the accused was being sent forward for trial in custody.

He has not yet been allocated a date for his next appearance which will take place at the Criminal Courts of Justice building in Dublin. Due to the nature of the charge he would have to make a bail application in the High Court.

Meanwhile a second man was charged last month with disposing of a chainsaw to impede the investigation. He is due back in court in October.