Thug admits role in brutal killing of young Wexford woman
A man sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the killing of a young Wexford woman in 2009 has finally admitted his part in the brutal slaying and begged the victim's family for forgiveness.
In an interview with the Irish Daily Star, Patrick O'Connor admits that he helped dispose of Rebecca French's body and that he was unable to stop her being killed.
State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy told the trial of two men, Lithuanian nationals Ruslanas Minekas (26) and Ricardus Dilys (28), who were charged with her murder, that the cause of death had been blunt force trauma to the head.
She said the blows had been sufficiently hard to break apart the plates of the skull.
A Garda patrol car on its way to the burning car stopped and officers spoke to four men walking along the road.
The men in the group were O’Connor, Polish national Piotr Pasiak and the two men who would later be charged.
Another patrol car called to Mr O’Connor’s house in the Ard na Dara estate in connection with an unrelated matter.
Entering the house, gardaí saw Minekas and Dilys, sitting with O’Connor and Pasiak and local woman Helen Connors.
Gardai found a box of latex gloves and cable ties, while blood-stained clothes and blood-stained golf clubs were also seized. The DNA profile from the blood on the golf clubs matched the victim’s.
Despite the wealth of forensic evidence, the murder charges against Mineikas and Dilys were dropped after the pair agreed to plead guilty to impeding the investigation into her death.
The murder charges were dropped when a legal technicality meant their admissions in garda custody could not be used against them.
O’Connor and Pasiak had already pleaded guilty to impeding the investigation before the trial got under way.
And today O'Connor speaks about that night for the first time. He claims that French hit Dilys and that after that "it all happened so quickly".
O'Connor claims that Dilys hit the mother of two once with a golf club and "by the time I reached [Rebecca] it was too late. She was dead on the living room floor.
"I did try to ring the gardai and they pulled me back into the house, they said 'Patrick are you going to ring the guards?'
"They pulled the phone oit of my hand and told me to get back into the house, so it could have been me next."
O'Connor tells the Star he can't remember how French's body ended up with a plastic bag over her head or how her wrists came to be tied together with cable ties.
However, he does admit to helping to carry the dead body with the other three to the boot of the car that was then driven to a remote spot and set alight.
And for the first time he apologised to the French family, saying "I'd like to completely and 100 per cent apologise deeply from the heart to Rebecca's family.
"What happened should not have happened but I could do nothing to stop it. I was powerless to stop it."
These comments are in stark contrast to what he told us when we confronted him after his release from prison last year.
On that occassion O’Connor refused to talk.
We tackled the 45-year-old as he made his way to a waiting taxi in October last year.
“Are you sorry Patrick?” we asked.
“Is there anything you would like to say to the French family?”
Again no response.
“Is there anything you’d like to say at all?”
Glaring at our reporter, O’Connor refused to comment for a third time before jumping into the waiting taxi.