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Character assassination Sister tells of heartbreak as she sat through trial of man who killed her brother

Stephen Keane (30) was jailed for life this week for the murder of John Lowe at his Waterford home in December, 2018

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Olive and her brother John were ‘best friends’.

Olive and her brother John were ‘best friends’.

Olive and her brother John were ‘best friends’.

The sister of a man beaten to death said it was heartbreaking listening to the lies from his killer during his trial.

Stephen Keane (30) was jailed for life this week for the murder of John Lowe at his Waterford home in December, 2018.

The dead man's sister Olive Organ told the Sunday World how she and one of her sisters sat through the grim trial that lasted two and half weeks.

"There was never any doubt that he did it, but the lies that came out during the trial were only horrendous," she said.

"I don't know how many different versions of events he gave to the guards."

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John Lowe.

John Lowe.

John Lowe.

 

Keane had admitted the manslaughter of John Lowe (60), but had denied murder, claiming he had thrown a single punch.

Olive said she was shocked to learn that Keane, who had moved into her brother's house at Coolfin Meadows, had left his victim for dead and went off to get food.

Only after speaking with his mother did Keane call the emergency services and then return to the house and attempt to resuscitate Mr Lowe.

Olive said it had been a gruelling experience to sit through the trial which had been postponed four times because of coronavirus restrictions.

"Tough is an understatement because it was so clear that he was lying. Who in their right mind would kill somebody and then go off to Portlaw to feed his face, a couple of hours later go back, and then decide to help my brother?"

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John Lowe was murdered and his killer left him to go and get something to eat.

John Lowe was murdered and his killer left him to go and get something to eat.

John Lowe was murdered and his killer left him to go and get something to eat.

 

Evidence was heard at the Central Criminal Court trial held in Waterford how Keane had been seen with bloodied hands at 12.30pm that day but the 999 call was only made at 2.15pm.

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"He had already killed my brother. That's what makes it so hard. If he had ran straight away and got somebody it wouldn't have been so bad," said Olive.

"We know he wouldn't have survived because the blow he got behind the ear killed him instantly. At least it would have shown Stephen Keane had a bit of a heart. Obviously, he didn't.

"Listening to all that in the court - that's heartbreaking. That my brother was lying in his house taking his last breath and Stephen Keane walks off out the estate.

"He washed the blood off his hands before he went to get something to eat because they found his blood mixed with my brother's in the bathroom sink.

"There was no panic, there was no rushing to down to the house to call 999."

Olive said her brother, who had been suffering from mental illness, had been the target of "character assassination" during the trial.

"His mental health was affected in the latter years. There is no point denying that because it's common knowledge, " said Olive.

"He did let the house slide a bit, but that house when he was well was his pride and joy. They kept harping on about the state of his house. We felt very uncomfortable with that. You don't kill somebody just because they have a dirty house.

"They were trying to discredit my brother. Character assassination."

In the weeks before John's death Olive said she felt her brother had turned a corner in his illness and had started to feel better.

"He knew there was something wrong with him, but he reckoned he was going to be alright and he'd come back from it. It seems he was starting to come back from it."

She remembers John as always being a cheerful person and told how they had been close friends since their school days.

"Me and John were only a class apart in school. I used to walk him to school every morning and we walked home together because we finished at the same time. We hung out together on our bikes," she recalled.

"We were more than brother and sister - we were best friends.

"I moved over to Wales with my husband and children for a short period of time and he came over after us. He lived nearby and worked with my husband over there."

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Killer Stephen Keane.

Killer Stephen Keane.

Killer Stephen Keane.

After several more years working in Cardiff laying gas pipelines, John returned to Portlaw and had been living at Coolfin Meadows for a number of years before his death.

Olive explained how she found it hard when she later realised the council had a new family living in what had once been her brother's home.

"It's like he never existed. It was hard.

"You never get over something like this. We had this trial looming over us and then our sister that was in a Cheshire Home in Cork passed away on the 10th of February. It's been one of the hardest years that we had to go through."

The trial heard how Keane had claimed he got into an argument over money being stolen from a silver box and that he killed John, who had a knife, with a single punch.

Neither a silver box nor a knife matching the description were found by gardaí while Deputy State Pathologist Michael Curtis said Mr Lowe suffered "multiple wounds".

Keane was sentenced to life by Judge Paul McDermott.

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