Man gets life for decades-old murder after walking into garda station to confess

Margot Seery's exhmumation
Margot Seery's exhmumation

A 41-year-old man has been handed down a life sentence after walking in to a garda station and confessing to the murder of a Dublin woman in her home 21 years ago.

Howard Kelly, with an address at Osprey Apartments, Naas, Co. Kildare was charged with the murder of Margot Seery (48) on March 27 this year.

Today Kelly pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Ms Seery at her home in Kenilworth Square, Dublin 6 on or between October 7 and October 8 1994.

Prosecution for the State Mr Brendan Grehan SC told the court this was a "highly unusual case" which came before the court today.

Mr Grehan told the court this case was about a deceased woman whose death occurred in 1994 and it was not considered "suspicious" at the time.

However it came to be investigated as a murder some twenty years later when the accused walked into a garda station to confess to the murder.

Mr Grehan called Detective Inspector George McGeary from Terenure garda station to give evidence.

Det Insp McGeary agreed with prosecution counsel that the body of Ms Margaret Seery who was known as 'Margot' was discovered at 1.30pm on October 8 1994 in the bedroom of her flat in Kenilworth Square in Rathmines.

Mr Grehan said Ms Seery lived in the flat with her daughter but her daughter was visiting her father at the time.

The court heard Ms Seery's body was discovered by a manager of the flats where she was living after a Friday night out with a friend. She was found fully clothed and lying face down on top of her bed.

Det Insp McGeary agreed with the barrister that the deceased was fully clothed at the time but rigor mortis had set in.

Mr Grehan said the post mortem at the time indicated there was no suspicious circumstances attached to Ms Seery's death.

"A post mortem was carried out which indicated that the death had been due to asphyxia due to inhalation of vomit caused by alcohol. The death had concluded from misadventure," said Mr Grehan.

Counsel said her death was not treated as suspicious at the time by gardai and her body was buried at Rathkeale Cemetery in Limerick.

Mr Grehan then told the court on July 22 2014 Kelly who was living in Naas, Co Kildare came into Rathmines Garda Station "unannounced" and told gardai he had killed a woman at Kenilworth Square about twenty years ago.

"Garda Gabriel Duffy indicated that Howard Kelly had presented himself at 6.30pm that day and told him about twenty years ago on October 21 1994 he was with a friend and was approached by two women," said Mr Grehan. 

The court heard Kelly went with one of the women to a house on Kenilworth Square and "there was some intimacy at the time" but this was then retracted.

Mr Grehan said Kelly told gardai at the time he had "felt threatened" by the woman and killed her by strangling her and then lifted her onto the bed.

Upon confessing to the murder, Gda McGreary agreed Kelly went to Kenilworth Square that day in an unmarked garda car to point out where it had occurred.

"During the drive he pointed out a number of houses on Kenilworth Square as to possibilities to where it had occurred," said Gda McGreary.

The court heard Kelly told gardai he had come forward as he had thoughts of ending things and his children were having nightmares.

Kelly then gave gardai an interview saying he "strangled" Ms Seery to death with his hands.

"I did so intentionally and it was not by accident and I have a heavy heart," read Mr Grehan.

At the time he also apologised to gardai for not coming to them sooner.

Kelly told gardai he was in the company of his friend, had been on a pub crawl and was walking by a park when two women approached them.

Alison Riordan