Murder accused allegedly told casino owner that he killed prostitute because she was blackmailing him

Jimmy Devaney
Jimmy Devaney

The trial of a retired member of the defence forces accused of murdering a woman in Co.Westmeath four years ago has heard that he told a man he had killed her.

Jimmy Devaney (66) of Millbrook Avenue, Monksland, Athlone has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Marie Greene in Westmeath on February 13, 2011.

The court has heard that Ms Greene, who was working as a prostitute, was last seen alive on the evening of the 13th of February and her body was found in a bog near Ballykieran outside Athlone nine days later.

The trial has heard the accused had been playing cards in a casino in Athlone that night as he regularly did but left and returned later that evening.

Alan Kavanagh who owned the Lighthouse Casino in Custume Barracks told the court that Mr Devaney was the first into the club that night.

He said the accused had told him there was a a girl blackmailing him and said that he had killed her because she might tell his wife and children.

Mr Kavanagh testified that the accused told him who he had killed and that it had happened in a bog.

He told the court he had a CCTV system in the club and the accused asked him if he could get rid of the cameras. He said he did not think Mr Devaney understood much about CCTV.

“He just said that the girl was blackmailing him, she was driving him mad or whatever and he said she was going to tell his wife”, said Mr Kavanagh.

He said he was not aware that Ms Greene was missing at that point but became aware of it at a later stage.

Mr Kavanagh agreed with Giollaiosa O' Lideadha SC defending under cross-examination he gave a  statement to gardai that when Mr Devaney returned to the club there was a bit of what looked like blood on his shirt his hands were shaking also.

The deceased’s sister, Julie Greene, told the court that at 8 o’ clock on the evening in question Marie got a phone call.  She said her sister told the person on the phone “I’m coming now’.

Ms Greene said she rang her sister at 4am in morning but got no answer. She said her sister was in good form that day. 

She told the court she knew her sister went with men in cars for money but it was unusual for her not to return.

Ms Greene agreed with Mr O' Lideadha under cross-examination that she knew her sister would get a number of calls from men.

Another sister Teresa Greene gave evidence that she had a number of conversations with the deceased on the day she went missing and she was in good form. She said that was the last time she heard from her.

The deceased’s mother Winnie Greene said she lived with her daughters Julie and Marie in St Mel’s Terrace.

She testified her daughter got a call between 8pm and 9pm and told the person on the phone “I’m coming now” but said she did not know where she was going.

She said she got two phonecalls the same evening and that her daughter was in good form.

“I’ve never seen her in better form,”  Mrs Greene told the court.

Mrs Greene said she went out after the second phone call and never came back. She said she got a bad felling that something was wrong and she asked her daughter Julie to keep ringing Marie.

‘I’d an awful feeling something was wrong,’ she said.

She testified that her daughter was very private about who was ringing her.

Tony Connaughton gave evidence he knew Mr Devaney six or seven years and both had a mutual interest in poker.

He said that Mr Devaney asked him a couple of days before where he could get a couple of thousand euro and said he needed it for his daughter.

“He was anxious that he wanted it soon” Mr Connaughton told the court. 

Mr Connaughton testified that he heard at a later date that Mr Devaney did get the money.

In his opening speech Alex Owens SC prosecuting told the jury it was the State’s case that the accused murdered Ms Greene on the evening of the 13th of February some time after 8pm at Annagorta bog in Ballykieran outside Athlone.

Mr Owens said the evidence would be that for a number of years Ms Greene was a prostitute in Athlone and Mr Devaney was one of her clients.

Counsel said Ms Greene was murdered by Mr Devaney because she was blackmailing him and the evidence would be that in the months leading up to February 13 the accused was looking for money from a number of sources.

He said the jury would hear evidence that shortly before the events he got 1000 euro from one of his card playing friends and 3000 euro from a brother-in-law in England.

The trial continues tomorrow before a jury of six women and six men presided over by Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan.