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Murder accused Man charged with murder of gran Mary O'Keeffe remanded in custody

The widow was found dead in the car after a person out walking spotted smoke coming from the isolated woodland shortly before 4pm on Thursday last week.

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Michael Leonard of Hillcrest, Glenosheen, Kilmallock, Co Limerick appeared before Fermoy District Court

Michael Leonard of Hillcrest, Glenosheen, Kilmallock, Co Limerick appeared before Fermoy District Court

Michael Leonard of Hillcrest, Glenosheen, Kilmallock, Co Limerick appeared before Fermoy District Court

A MAN charged with the murder of widow Mary O'Keeffe (72) whose body was discovered in a blazing car at a remote Cork woodland has been remanded in ongoing custody.

Michael Leonard (62) appeared before Cork District Court having been initially charged before a special court sitting last Sunday.

He is charged with the murder of grandmother and mother of three Mrs O'Keeffe at Dromdeer East, Doneraile, Co Cork on Thursday, February 4 contrary to Common Law.

Detective Sergeant James O'Shea said that when Leonard was arrested, cautioned and formally charged at Fermoy Garda Station, he made no reply.

Leonard, who has an address at Hill Crest, Glenosheen, Kilmallock, Co Limerick, appeared in court by video link.

He remained silent throughout the brief hearing.

Because the charge involved is murder, the issue of bail can only be dealt with by the High Court.

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Mary O’Keeffe

Mary O’Keeffe

Mary O’Keeffe

Gardaí applied for the defendant to be remanded in custody until February 26.

He will appear via video link before Cork District Court on that date.

The court has already ordered that the forestry worker receive all appropriate medical and psychiatric support required while in custody.

Free legal aid has already been confirmed.

Leonard was arrested on February 5 and taken for questioning to Fermoy Garda Station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984.

He was detained on his discharge from Cork University Hospital (CUH) where he had been treated for hypothermia since Thursday.

Mrs O'Keeffe's body was discovered in a gutted Dacia Duster car at the remote Dromdeer woodland shortly before 4pm on February 4.

The widow's remains were removed to CUH where a full postmortem examination was conducted by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster.

Following that examination, Gardaí arrested the defendant.

The widow was found dead in the burning car after a person out walking spotted smoke coming from the isolated woodland shortly before 4pm on Thursday last week.

Gardai were horrified to realise that a body was in the front passenger seat of the blazing car.

Such was the severity of the fire and the intense heat that the vehicle was burned back to its steel chassis shell.

Mrs O'Keeffe lived in Dromahane and was the mother of three adult sons.

Her husband, Donal, died over 20 years ago.

Tributes were paid to the widow in the north Cork village where she was hailed as a hard-working person who was totally devoted to her family and her community.

She had worked as a chef in a north Cork sheltered housing project and neighbours said she loved dancing, music and playing cards with friends.

Mrs O'Keeffe lived alone in the family home just off Dromahane's main street.

Details of her funeral arrangements are expected to be announced next week.

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