Hack on the streets | 

Former lover who bought tools used to dismember Patricia O’Connor smiles as he's freed from prison

Our exclusive pictures show Keith Johnson (45) greeting family and neighbours in Tallaght on Friday morning

Keith Johnson smiling after his release from prison

Keith Johnson smiling after his release from prison

Keith Johnson pictured at his home

Louise O’Connor

Kieran Greene

Gus O Connor

The late Patricia O'Connor.

Patrick O'ConnellSunday World

The final member of the conspiracy to cover up the gruesome murder of gran Patricia O’Connor has been freed from prison after serving two-and-a-half years for helping to purchase the tools used to dismember and bury her remains.

Our exclusive pictures show Keith Johnson (45) greeting family and neighbours in Tallaght on Friday morning just hours after he walked free from Loughan House Prison in Roscommon.

Keith Johnson smiling after his release from prison

We watched as Johnson enjoyed his first cigarette as a free man, before approaching him outside his home to ask if he would speak about his role in one of the macabre murders to have ever taken place in this country.

But Johnson, who appeared tanned and in better health than when he entered prison, declined saying: “No, I don’t want to say anything. No comment.”

Johnson was jailed for impeding the apprehension or prosecution of 61-year-old Patricia’s killer, Kieran Greene, in February of 2020.

The Central Criminal Court heard he assisted Greene (35) by helping him to buy hacksaws, axes and other tools which were to be used to dismember the body and conceal her remains.

The late Patricia O'Connor.

Johnson’s release from prison on Friday means the sole person to remain behind bars in connection with the horrific murder is Patricia’s killer, Kieran Greene.

Greene is serving life for battering retired hospital cleaner Patricia to death with a child’s hurley in a “sustained attack” in the bathroom of the family home at Mountainview Park, Rathfarnham on May 29, 2017.

He buried the grandmother- of-seven’s body in a shallow grave in a cornfield in Wexford, but later dug her up, dismembered her with a hacksaw and scattered the remains in the Wicklow mountains.

His seven-week trial heard Patricia’s body was dismembered into 15 parts that were found at nine locations over a 30km range in the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains between June 10 and 14, 2017.

Kieran Greene

Former deputy State pathologist Dr Michael Curtis gave evidence that Patricia O’Connor’s head was struck a minimum of three blows with a solid implement and the cause of death was blunt-force trauma to the head.

The cause of the fatal attack is believed to have been linked to friction due to overcrowding in the house where Patricia had allowed daughter Louise (43) and partner Kieran to live with Louise’s children.

Johnson’s release on Friday comes just four months after Louise was freed after spending 23 months behind bars for her part in the failed effort to conceal the killing.

When confronted by this newspaper on her release, she refused to explain why she sought to shield then-boyfriend Greene from justice.

Keith Johnson pictured at his home

Johnson was Louise’s former partner; together with whom she has a daughter, Stephanie, who was also jailed for impeding the Garda investigation into her grandmother’s murder.

After Kieran killed Patricia, Louise and Stephanie claimed she had stormed out of the house following an argument. Stephanie even dressed up as her dead grandmother leaving the house later that night, to be captured on a neighbour’s CCTV to bolster this claim.

The plan was “hatched,” the court heard, with Louise, who agreed to it.

Stephanie (24) was released from prison in February of 2021 after serving just eight months of her 18-month-sentence.

Patricia’s husband, Gus O’Connor – Louise’s dad – was also convicted of impeding the murder probe.

He knew his wife was dead but later went to Gardaí to falsely report she was missing.

Gus O Connor

Gus (78) was the only participant in the failed cover-up plot to admit his guilt and was the first to be freed from prison. He later inherited the murder house, as Patricia’s next-of-kin, and sold it for €350,000.

Gus died earlier this year.

Sentencing the four conspirators in February of 2020, Judge Paul McDermott described what they had done as “simply appalling.”

The reaction and response of the four accused to the killing was “dreadful,” he said. Patricia’s body was disposed of in a very short period of time and “no effort was made to obtain the assistance of the Gardaí or emergency services.”

In a very short space of time, the efforts to conceal the crime became “ever more elaborate.”

The remains were dismembered by Greene and found with “shock and horror” by unsuspecting members of the public, the judge said. The object of the exercise was to ensure that her body was never found, or if found, that the murderer was never prosecuted.

Patricia had worked hard all her life for her children and grandchildren and her death had been “devastating and heart-breaking” for her family, the judge continued.

She was a person who “had a life and a future until it was ended by the murder committed by Kieran Greene.”

Louise O’Connor

The “ruse” Louise and Stephanie took part in was to create the impression that Patricia was a missing person.

Their lies created a “cover story” for Greene and they maintained it even after the emergence of the “horrible details” of how Patricia had been disinterred and dismembered, the judge said.

As Patricia’s daughter and granddaughter, “their reactions to what was done to her were shocking and callous, a fact that was compounded by the close family connections.”

Louise bore a greater degree of culpability and responsibility than her daughter because of her dominant position in the household.

While the dismemberment of the body was not part of the case against them, their behaviour allowed Greene to continue to take whatever steps he felt appropriate to avoid detection, Judge McDermott said.

The judge noted that Louise and Stephanie had accepted the jury’s verdict since their convictions but he said he was not satisfied that either of them had told the full truth of what happened that night.

Patricia O’Connor had been described by her son Richard as a hard-working “straight talker” who had opened up her home to her family and, Judge McDermott said, he was not satisfied that her personality or any tensions in the house due to overcrowding were mitigating features.

Paying tribute to Patricia O’Connor after the sentencing, son Richard described her as “a kind, loving person; a mother, a sister and a grandmother with many years left to live that were so cruelly taken from her.”

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