NewsCrime Desk

Wife killer revealed true self in Late Late display

Pat Kenny with Rose Callely and Joe O'Reilly
Pat Kenny with Rose Callely and Joe O'Reilly

FOR most Irish people above the age of 30, The Late Late Show of October 22, 2004, is indelibly marked in their memory.

That was the night Joe O’Reilly unwittingly revealed to the nation that it was actually he who had slaughtered his wife Rachel – not some fictitious burglar.

O’Reilly thought he was the cleverest criminal on the block; in fact, he may have been its stupidest.

Like many psychopaths with zero remorse and zero empathy, he created a fantasy life for himself where he truly believed he was far brighter than everybody else.

 In reality, O’Reilly, like most psychopathic killers, has nowhere near the IQ of, for example, serial killer Ted Bundy.

However, his ability to convince himself and others that he was in total control is known in the psychopathic community as a ‘duping delight’.

Normally this is done through well-rehearsed ‘shallow emotions’, where the more cunning psychopath can cry tears on demand.

A greater example of how it should not be done, however, was witnessed with O’Reilly’s Late Late Show appearance with Pat Kenny, as he sat beside his late wife’s unfortunate mother, Rose Callely.

But O’Reilly let himself down, as many do who suffer from his personality disorder, by how he displayed what he thought were ‘emotions’.

To savages such as O’Reilly, emotions are like a second language. In fact, they do emotions like many of us might try to speak French or Irish.

Often when we speak a second language we can appear delayed and unsure.

Native speakers of that language will find us out immediately. In the same way, O’Reilly showed to the world that his emotions were not real as they followed behind, for instance, his hand movements.

For most of us, our physical expressions are in keeping with our true emotions.

O’Reilly has none, so he had to try and practice them as someone would a violin or a piano. The problem for this murderer was that he had not practised enough.

His gestures and hand motions looked clumsy and out of sync with the emotions he was trying to convey.

He was a shambles of a man who clearly had no concern for his ex-wife – or her mother, who sat beside him staring into the distance.

The interview unfolded like a slow-moving car crash as comment after comment and gesture after gesture revealed his true self – a murdering psychopath trying to frame a storyline that would have been embarrassing were it not so serious.

O’Reilly was and is a showboater, a braggart, a liar and a savage, but he is also, in his own head, charming, knowledgeable and was welcoming to strangers if they came to his house – especially if they were journalists.

On that night with Pat Kenny he showed the entire country the essence of his personality type; that he was merely a proto-human with all the marks of a man who –as one world expert on psychopathy would have put it – knew the words but not the music.

For the sake of everyone, let us hope it will be decades more before he will see the light of day – if at all.


Criminologist and Lecturer in Forensic Psychology, John O’Keeffe, looks back at the night the nation realised Joe O’Reilly was not an ordinary, concerned husband.