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Ex-soldier found guilty of manslaughter of Westmeath prostitute

Jimmy Devaney
Jimmy Devaney

A retired member of the defence forces has been acquitted of murdering a prostitute in Co.Westmeath four years ago but found guilty of her manslaughter.

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

But the jury of six women and five men returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter after four hours and 23 minutes of deliberation.

Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan thanked the jury before excusing them from further service for a period of 15 years saying “it hasn’t been an easy case”.

The judge adjourned sentencing until November 2 next and remanded Devaney in custody until that date. 

The court heard Marie Greene, who was working as a prostitute, was last seen alive on the evening on February 13, 2011 and her body was discovered nine days later in Anagorta Bog outside Athlone.

State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy said the deceased had suffered six stab wounds to the trunk. There were multiple incise wounds to the head and neck.

Prof Cassidy confirmed under cross examination by Devaney’s lawyer Giollaiosa Ó Lideadha SC, that some of the stab wounds could have been part of a continuous attack that continued after death.

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

He told Gardai in an interview that he stabbed her several times because he lost control but said that she had bought the knife to the scene.

Devaney said that she had blackmailed him for up to 15 years and that he had given her up to 40,000 euro and 20,000 in the previous six months.

He told Gardai that he met up with her and drove out to Anagorta Bog near Ballykieran to talk to her but she was threatening to get her brothers after him.

Devaney told Gardai he lost control during a struggle and “just kept stabbing” her.

The court heard evidence that two other unnamed men told gardaí they had been blackmailed by Ms Greene. The court heard she had 50 previous convictions.

Alex Owens SC prosecuting said the killing was planned and pointed to a desire for revenge, some forward planning and calculation.

He told the jury Devaney had brought a knife to the scene and rang Ms Greene from a public phone box to arrange to meet when he had previously used his own phone to contact her.

Marie Greene

Mr Owens told the jury he had shown himself to be someone who was quite in control, having disposed of the body and continued to play poker afterwards.

He said Devaney had given gardaí a "cock and bull" story about the knife.

Mr Ó Lideadha said there was no evidence to prove the killing was planned and that it was possible Ms Greene stole the knife from his jeep, which was used previously as a vehicle for hunting.

Counsel said if his client had planned the killing he would not have thrown the knife back into his jeep and would not have returned to a poker game in a dishevelled state for all the other card players to witness.

He said Devaney's lies to gardaí did not necessarily mean he had intended to kill Marie Greene because people lie for many reasons.

Mr Ó Lideadha said the jury should look at the pathology evidence which was consistent with a loss of control.

He told the court Mr Devaney said he "just kept stabbing her". He said he may have intended to kill or seriously harm but he was not the master of his own mind.

Ms Justice Heneghan told the jury in her direction to them that the defence of provocation could reduce murder to manslaughter even if there was intention to kill or cause serious harm.

The judge told them that to find Devaney guilty of murder they would have to find the prosecution had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he was not provoked and did not lose control.

The judge said the jury would have to consider if he was provoked, if he lost self control, was it a total and sudden loss and did the killing take place before allowing for passion to cool.

Mr  O’ Lideadha asked the court to adjourn sentencing until November 2 and asked for his client to remain on bail until that date.

But Ms Justice Heneghan remanded him in custody until that date when victim impact statements will be before the court.