Prosecution finishes calling evidence in Westmeath murder trial

Jimmy Devaney
Jimmy Devaney

The Prosecution has finished calling evidence in the trial of a retired army private accused of murdering a prostitute who he claimed blackmailed him for up to €40,000.

Father-of-three 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 the deceased, who was working as a prostitute, was last seen alive on the evening of the 13th of February and her body was found in Anagorta Bog near Ballykieran outside Athlone nine days later.

The accused told gardai that he had been blackmailed that the prostitute would tell his wife and threatened to get her brothers after him.

He told gardai in an interview that he had given her up to €40,000 and €20,000 in the previous six months.

Alex Owens SC prosecuting has been reading memos of garda interviews with the accused to the court.

The trial has heard the accused had been playing cards in a casino in Athlone that night as he regularly did.

Mr Devaney said he drove out to a bog on the Mullingar Road to talk to her but denied bringing a knife with him. He told them he had lost control and stabbed Ms Greene.

The jury was also shown videos of the accused during his detention where he said she was swinging the knife at him and he pulled her to the ground.

He said he grabbed the knife from her and she was screaming and kicking. He said he stabbed her saying he completely lost control and had just come to the end of his tether after 15 years.

“I don’t feel relief that she's dead, she was evil to me but she wasn't bad person ya know? I don’t think she was a bad person,” Mr Devaney told Gardai.

“She was destroying my life…I was an easy target…if she wanted 400 I gave it to her, if she wanted 6000 I gave it to her. I didn't think it was going to escalate into this,” he said.

“God forgive if I didn’t do it today I would be going looking for more money to give her,” he said in the interview.

During the course on an interview on February 22, 2011 he was shown a green-handled knife and said it was the one he used to stab her but denied bringing it with him.

“She had the knife, i didn't source it,” he told gardai.

When asked how many times he had stabbed her he said  “a good many times , she was screaming and kicking”.

Today Detective Sergeant Eamon Curley who previously gave evidence for the State was tendered as a witness to the defence.

He gave evidence that a previous client said that Marie Greene would go with him to Anagorta Bog near Ballykieran on a regular basis.

The court also heard that another man said he was going out to the bog because turf was being stolen and that he gave Marie Greene a lift out there.

Det Sgt Curley told Giollaiosa O’ Lideadha SC defending that the deceased’s brothers were “well-known”.

One of her brothers was now deceased but had a number of previous convictions including assault and threatening behaviour, the court was told.

The court was also told that Marie Greene had 50 previous convictions for offences including larceny and theft.

The court heard she offered a man sex for money and when the injured party refused she removed 150 euro from his pocket. 

Det Sgt Curley agreed with the defence that it was the prosecution’s case that the motive for the killing is one of blackmail.

He further agreed that the prosecution accepted he was being blackmailed and was paying over large amounts of money with his account going into overdraft over time. In December 2010 it went into overdraft and remained so.

Today the court also heard evidence that the financial accounts of the Greene family were investigated.

Det Sgt Curley told Mr O’ Lideadha that an assets profiler was tasked with examining the accounts of the Greene family. The court heard it was not possible to link Marie Greene to any of those bank accounts but she did  lodge money into the credit union account.

He said that five different accounts were examined including one in the Credit Union.

One account in AIB in was in the name of Winifred Greene and one in the names of Winifred Greene and the deceased’s brother John Greene.

The total amounts in the accounts was just under 70,000 euro and Gardai were satisfied that €25,000 could have arisen out of land given to Winifred Greene from a friend of her husband who died.

Garda could not find any link Marie Greene to those bank accounts but she did lodge money into the credit union account.

The court was told that a large number of men were repeat clients of Marie Greene and Mr O’ Lideadha said two anonymous victims of extortion said she demanded cash from them.

One told a retired garda informally that he paid Marie Greene €30,000. He said he eventually told his wife and told Marie Greene to “fuck off.’

The court heard he was offered sexual favours in return for money but didn't have sexual intercourse. 

She started to ask for money saying she would tell people she was pregnant with his baby and said she wanted €30,000 in six months. He finally told his wife and told her to ‘f**k off “ and not to contact him again, the court was told.

Another man whose name is blanked out in court documents told gardai that he stopped visiting her about a year before. She demanded 500 euro from him or she was going to tell his wife.

The court was told Mr Devaney had an exceptionally successful soccer career and had played for Athlone Town and Temple Villa.

It also heard he was a loving, caring father and gardai accepted he was genuine in his work with children in Belarus.

Closing speeches will be made tomorrow before presiding judge Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan gives her direction to the jury of six men and six women.