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'grotesque' Dad of eight who cleaned up after murder of Keane Mulready Woods is jailed for four years

The four-year prison term was also backdated by 22 months to when McKenna first went into custody.

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Gerard McKenna

Gerard McKenna

Gerard McKenna

A father-of-eight who removed evidence from his home where teenager Keane Mulready Woods was murdered has been jailed for four years.

Gerard 'Ged' McKenna (52), of Rathmullen Park in Drogheda, had been directed to clean up the house by a now deceased criminal of "very significant notoriety" linked to several murders including that of a "very close friend".

When gardaí searched the property it was covered in the teen's blood splatter and botched efforts had been made to clear evidence from the crime scene.

The Central Criminal Court today heard that McKenna had known the victim since birth but "didn't care" what the killers did to the 17-year-old in his family home.

Keane Mulready Woods was last seen alive on January 12, 2020, with two suspects in the murder investigation at a shop near the Rathmullen estate. Days later his limbs and skull were discovered in different parts of Dublin.

This morning Mr Justice Paul McDermott said that McKenna was not present during the "shocking dismemberment" of the boy or had prior knowledge of the murder.

However, he said the accused became aware of this when he walked into the house and was instructed to clean the property.

He said the impeding of the apprehension of persons involved in the "horrific murder of a young boy" by disposing of material evidence was a very serious offence.

The judge said that, while McKenna expressed shame and knew the family and the victim from birth, he "didn't care at the time" what was done to Keane in his family home, albeit that he didn't expect the youth to be murdered and "in such a grotesque" way.

He remarked that McKenna found himself in a dilemma "largely by his own making" due to his chosen lifestyle and the people he associated with.

Mr Justice McDermott also said nothing could alleviate the "terrible anguish" suffered by Keane Mulready Woods and his family and described the murder as "vicious".

He also said that the killers disposed of the remains in an appalling and disrespectful manner.

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Keane Mulready Woods

Keane Mulready Woods

Keane Mulready Woods

Taking into account mitigating factors including his guilty plea and his remorse, the judge sentenced Gerard McKenna to five years and three months imprisonment, which he suspended for 15 months.

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The four-year prison term was also backdated by 22 months to when McKenna first went into custody.

At a previous sentencing hearing, gardaí outlined the background to the case, saying that there "may be more to" the murder than a "petty" motive.

Det Sgt Peter Cooney said that Keane Mulready Woods' mother reported him missing on the afternoon of Monday, January 13, 2020. He was under a curfew as part of bail conditions for an upcoming court case but hadn't returned home.

A review of CCTV footage established that on the Sunday evening he had taken a taxi to Ballsgrove beside Rathmullen Park at around 6pm. A man- 'Mr A'- paid for the taxi and they both entered the shop, before leaving and getting into a Volkswagen Jetta driven by 'Mr B'.

The court was told that both men are suspects in the murder investigation.

Shortly before 10pm on January 13, the teen's limbs were found in a sports bag in the Priorswood area of Dublin, and two days later his skull was found in the boot of a burnt-out car near Clonliffe Road. Further parts of his torso were also recovered in Drogheda last year, but a cause of death was unascertained.

Acting on intelligence gardaí searched McKenna's home on Tuesday, January 14 and observed blood splatter across the house which had been covered up with paint. The youth's blood was also found on the ceiling, a TV unit, a Sky box, and on a couch that had moved from the sitting room into the back garden.

A section of the floor had also been removed and partially replaced with a different type of wood.

Gardaí learned that items had been burnt in a fire around 70m from the crime scene which was set alight in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Evidence recovered from the fire included the victim's ballistics vest, a box of Swiss army knives, and part of the couch- all containing Keane Mulready Woods' blood.

A Toyota Corolla was also found near the scene and when searched gardaí recovered more items with the victim's DNA on them, including an axe with blood on the handle, socks, and a bone fragment. The keys to the car were found in McKenna's house.

A month later he was arrested and during interview told gardaí "I didn't know the child had a vest" and "we were told to burn the bags; I didn't know what was in them".

The court heard he had received a phone call from a person of "very significant notoriety" who had been linked to several murders including that of a very close friend.

McKenna told interviewing gardaí: "He will mince my child" and "I don't know why I took the call", and that he had to do it to save his kids.

He said he was told to stay away from the house and when he returned on the Monday morning, he discovered it had already been partially cleaned.

"They told me to f*****g clean and burn me settees and that", he told gardaí, adding that he was "off his head taking Xanax" and cocaine while cleaning up.

McKenna was captured on CCTV buying paint in a nearby hardware store that afternoon, while a neighbour told gardaí that he gave the accused packets of wood flooring.

Gardaí noted that in the days after the murder McKenna was "inconsolable" and "intermittently crying". While in custody he overdosed on pills and was hospitalised for two days.

The court was told that Keane Mulready Woods was lured to the house by people involved in organised crime and that, while McKenna did not know specifically what his house was being used for, he knew "something bad was going to happen".

The court was also told that Gerard McKenna has 14 previous convictions including for the sale of drugs, burglary and violent disorder dating back to 1993. He had seven children with his wife and another child from a recent relationship.

Two other men are due to go on trial before the Special Criminal Court later this year charged with the murder of Keane Mulready Woods.

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