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exclusive extracts pt2 ‘I cut her up and scattered her around the mountains' - new book reveals horror of Patricia O'Connor murder

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Gardai and Defence Forces personnel on the Sally Gap searching for the body parts of Patricia O'Connor (inset)

Gardai and Defence Forces personnel on the Sally Gap searching for the body parts of Patricia O'Connor (inset)

Gardai and Defence Forces personnel on the Sally Gap searching for the body parts of Patricia O'Connor (inset)

EXTRACT: Crowded House: The Definitive Story Behind the Gruesome Murder of Patricia O’Connor.

Confession

At 7.15 p.m. on the first day of the full search up the mountains, Garda Patrick Foley noticed a shifty-looking man sitting on his own in the public waiting area of Rathfarnham Garda Station. The public desk attracts all sorts, but there was something about this visitor that caught Garda Foley’s attention. He seemed very nervous and kept rubbing his face with his hands. It was obvious he was mentally preparing himself to make the short walk to the hatch. He eventually rose from his creaky wooden seat and crossed the tiles to place his request. ‘I’d like to speak to someone in charge,’ he said.

Garda Foley, turned gatekeeper, asked him why. ‘That body up the mountains is Patricia O’Connor,’ he replied. He went on to say that he had pushed her and hit her with a hurley during a struggle in the house they shared, just over 2km from the station.

He had Garda Foley’s full attention now as he cocked his forearm and brought it down ‘like a hatchet’ to demonstrate what he claimed to have done to her. He said it had happened outside the bathroom. ‘She fell backwards. There was blood everywhere,’ he said. She was unresponsive, so, he said, he took her up the mountains.

Garda Foley had heard enough. He fetched his superior. Detective Sergeant Lucy Myles was the member in charge at Rathfarnham Garda Station that day. She had been on duty since 7 a.m. Garda Foley told her there was a man at the hatch looking to speak to her. She met him at a side door and asked him what he wanted. He told her he had done ‘something terrible’. She took out her notebook.

'The stuff up the mountains was me,’ he said. ‘What stuff?’ she asked. ‘The body parts that were scattered around the Dublin Mountains. I cut them up and threw them all over the place up there. I blacked out, and don’t know what happened. I just threw them all over the mountains.’

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Kieran Greene confessed to gardai

Kieran Greene confessed to gardai

Kieran Greene confessed to gardai

She asked him his name. ‘Kieran Greene,’ he replied. She closed her notebook and cautioned him. He wasn’t under arrest, but he needed to know his rights. ‘Kieran Greene, you are not obliged to say anything unless you wish to do so, but whatever you say will be taken down in writing and may be given in evidence.’ Detective Sergeant Myles had her reservations about what he was saying. She was aware that human remains had been found up the mountains, but as far as she knew, they belonged to an unidentified man in his twenties. Could this be a waste of her time? After all, it’s not unusual for people to come forward with bogus claims when a high-profile murder investigation is under way.

It had been a long day, and she’d been on duty for over twelve hours, but there was something in his manner and the way he spoke that led her to believe this wasn’t just some crackpot looking for attention. She had a feeling, so she probed further. ‘Who did you cut up, Kieran?’ she asked. ‘My mother-in-law. Well, she isn’t my mother-in-law officially,’ he explained. 'I’ve been with her daughter for the past ten or eleven years. We have three children together.’

He gave her name as Patricia O’Connor. The name rang a bell. A 61-year-old woman called Patricia O’Connor had been reported missing earlier in the month. Detective Sergeant Myles scribbled the name down. She’d look into it.

Kieran then handed her a set of keys to a Toyota Corolla and gave her permission to search it. ‘That’s the car I used to bring the body away,’ he said. ‘Why did you kill her?’ she asked. ‘Well, I was getting out of the shower when she came in, shouting and screaming. She picked up a kid’s hurl outside the door and started hitting me with it. I grabbed it and hit her back. All I remember then is coming round, and she was lying on the ground with blood everywhere.’

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Members of the Defence Forces and Gardai search the Sally Gap

Members of the Defence Forces and Gardai search the Sally Gap

Members of the Defence Forces and Gardai search the Sally Gap

He told her he put her body in the boot of the car and drove to County Wexford, where he buried her in a shallow grave. ‘I panicked and dug her up a few days later,’ he said. ‘I cut her up and scattered her around the mountains.’ They moved to an interview room in the belly of the station. Detective Sergeant Myles left the room briefly to speak privately with her colleague, Detective Garda David Connolly. He was also aware that a woman called Patricia O’Connor had been reported missing. Kieran was very upset when she returned to the room, and during their early exchanges she found him ‘fidgety, but coherent’ as he added more details to the harrowing story he’d just shared with her.

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Detective Sergeant Myles was still a bit sceptical, so she let him lead the interview. Her experience had taught her the best course of action in these situations was to allow a suspect to feel like they’re the one driving the conversation. Her initial input was minimal. Less is often more in these situations. Skilled journalists and lawyers do the same, especially with tricky customers. Ask a question, and let them do the work. Once they’ve run out of gas, the trick is to wait a moment before responding or asking a follow-up question. That moment of silence will feel like a lifetime under the heat of the spotlight and if you’re lucky, they’ll go off script and fill the void with what you’re really looking for.

Detective Sergeant Myles did ask probing questions, but for the most part, she just let him tell his story in his own words. He began by telling her he felt ‘terrible’ about what had happened. He said there had been a fight over a cat earlier in the day, and everyone went to the park. When they came back, he said, she came downstairs and started another fight. He then claimed she stormed out of the house. Her husband Gus went to bed early, according to Kieran. So did Louise and the kids. He said he was in the bathroom when Patricia returned just after midnight and claimed she opened the bathroom door armed with a hurl and kept telling him to get out as she lashed him with it. He eventually grabbed it from her, and couldn’t recall what happened next.

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Murder victim Patricia O'Connor

Murder victim Patricia O'Connor

Murder victim Patricia O'Connor

He said he just woke up on the bathroom floor some time later, and saw blood everywhere. He told Detective Sergeant Myles he panicked and carried her upstairs to her bedroom. He brought her back down an hour or so later, and bundled her into the boot of her own car, a 2008 Toyota Corolla. He had placed blankets on the floor of the boot, and just started driving. He said he drove all over the place before eventually stopping on a narrow road. There was a farmhouse to his right, and ‘a little alcove thing’. He said he walked through the gate, carrying a shovel, and just stared digging. He couldn’t dig very deep, maybe a foot or so. He then covered her with clay before turning for home.

Detective Sergeant Myles conducted this interview alone. She asked a few questions, but mostly observed and listened while writing his answers down in her notebook as fast as she could. She was later criticised for not asking a colleague to join her in the interview room, but this was a voluntary statement. Kieran Greene was in the driving seat, and he hadn’t been forced to take the wheel, so she was happy to hear what he had to say on her own. Given her experience as a senior police officer, she felt confident in her own capabilities. There are rules for taking such statements. The so-called Judges’ Rules were first drawn up over a century ago to ensure that suspects are treated fairly. Detective Sergeant Myles was aware of her obligations,and she made sure everything was above board.

At one point during the interview, a big fat drop of sweat could be seen clinging to the base of Kieran’s chin. Judging by its track, it had made its descent from his clammy forehead, where many more were waiting for their turn to jump. He became more and more upset as the interview went on. He was fidgety and kept rubbing his hands. His demeanour worsened as he recalled what happened next. A few days after he claimed to have killed Patricia and dumped her body, he said, he panicked and returned to the shallow grave with a hacksaw and some gloves. He said he couldn’t move her, so he cut up her arms, legs, torso and head, put the pieces in bags, and scattered them up the mountains, along with the hacksaw and his clothes.

‘It was so dark’, he said, ‘I thought I was offroad at times.’ He said he went home afterwards. The interview room went quiet, and the bulging drop of sweat finally dropped from his chin and splashed onto the table below. The others soon followed, but he cut them off at the pass with a quick swipe of his forearm. Detective Sergeant Myles brought the interview to an end.

Crowded House: The Definitive Story Behind the Gruesome Murder of Patricia O’Connor by Frank Greaney is published by Gill Books, priced at €16.99 and available now in bookshops and online.

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