'appalling death' | 

Man pleads guilty to murdering Mary O'Keeffe (72) whose body was found in burning car

Michael Leonard (63) of Kilmallock, Co Limerick appeared in court for a brief arraignment this morning at which he responded, ‘guilty'

Eoin ReynoldsIndependent.ie

A man has pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering a 72-year-old grandmother whose body was found in a burning car.

Michael Leonard (63) of Hillcrest, Glenosheen, Kilmallock, Co Limerick appeared in court for a brief arraignment this morning at which he responded, "guilty", to the charge that he murdered Mary O'Keeffe at Doneraile, Co Cork on February 4 last year.

The court did not hear any evidence regarding the murder as Mr Justice Paul McDermott adjourned sentencing until December 14 when Ms O'Keefe's family will have an opportunity to make an impact statement.

At a bail hearing last year Det Sgt James O'Shea said that gardaí and fire services were called to the scene of a burning vehicle in which was Ms O'Keeffe's body at 2.20pm on February 4, 2021. Mr Justice Robert Eager refused bail and Leonard remains in custody.

During the bail hearing last year Leonard's defence counsel Marc Thompson Grolimund BL said that his client had a good work record and that he had worked for 41 years for Coillte before becoming a consultant and retiring 12 months earlier.

Mary O'Keeffe

Taking the stand, Leonard told Mr Grolimund that he would "absolutely" not approach any witness in the case and would "not speak to anyone in the case, bar my solicitor".

Mr Justice Eagar said that Ms O'Keeffe had suffered an "appalling" death and that he had taken into account the "degree and seriousness" of the charge of murder when denying bail, after hearing evidence from Det Sgt O'Shea and Mr Leonard.

The late Ms O’Keeffe lived in Dromahane, near Mallow, in Co Cork and worked as a cook. She is survived by her three sons.

A post-mortem was carried out on her body at Cork University Hospital on February 5.

The results of the post-mortem, which was carried out by Assistant State Pathologist Margaret Bolster, were not released.

The alarm was raised on February 4 when a passer-by spotted a car on fire near the Coillte forest in Doneraile.

Ms O’Keeffe was pronounced dead at the scene.


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