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FORGIVE ME.. RACHEL O'REILLY TRIAL: DAY ONE Accused weeps as letter he left in his wife's coffin is read to a packed court.

Byline: DARREN BOYLE at the Central Criminal Court

MURDER accused Joe O'Reilly asked

for his wife Rachel's forgiveness in

a letter buried with her, a court heard

yesterday.

O'Reilly, 35, of Naul, Co Dublin, denies his wife's murder at the family home on October 4, 2004.

The jury was told in a letter dated four days after the crime, O'Reilly wrote: "This is the hardest letter I ever had to write for reasons only we know.

"Rachel, forgive me. Two words, one sentence but I will say them forever."

At the end of the five-page document, which was read out in court by prosecution junior counsel Dominic McGinn, Rachel's two sons Adam and Luke each wrote: "I love you mammy."

O'Reilly, wearing a dark suit and blue tie, broke down and wept as details of the handwritten letter were read to the packed courtroom.

In it, he said: "You're the best thing to ever happen to me. I can't think what I'll ever do without you and I don't want to think. You will never be replaced."

He said Rachel had "touched the lives of so many, and made us all better people".

The letter went on: "I miss you so much Rachie, please, please remember that.

"You went away from the world so very young. The world will always remember how so very beautiful you are. Like Peter Pan you'll never grow old."

O'Reilly ends the letter: "Rachel, I love you and miss you I will mourn you for ever. XXX Your hubby wubby Jofes." Setting out his case for the prosecution,

Mr Dennis Vaughan Buckley told the jury of nine men and two women that they would hear State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy testify that Rachel died from head injuries caused by blunt force trauma.

Judge Barry White heard that Dr Cassidy will also tell the court the 30-year-old suffered serious lacerations and brain damage.

It is understood more than 170 witnesses will be called in a trial that is expected to last around five weeks.

Mr Vaughan Buckley told the jury, one of whom was discharged yesterday, that the prosecution's duty in a murder trial is to prove the guilt of the accused "beyond a reasonable doubt".

He said during the trial O'Reilly was entitled to the presumption of innocence.

The lawyer added that any doubts must not be "frivolous" and the level of proof needed was not to the standard of a "mathematical certainty". He described their duty as "a very heavy burden". He said: "You will hear the evidence and if you are satisfied that he is guilty it is your duty to convict. "You and you alone are the judges of the facts.

"This is a case where you'd be less than human if you did not have any sympathy for Mr O'Reilly.

"And you'd be less than human if you did not have sympathy for the sister, brother and mother of Rachel O'Reilly who was brutally killed and murdered." Mr Vaughan Buckley pointed out the Callely family who were sitting in the public benches to the jury.

The prosecution counsel said his case was "dependent on circumstantial evidence" describing it as very complicated.

The jury was told: "When you have heard all the evidence you will have more than ample evidence that the accused did murder his wife."

He described the process of evaluating circumstantial evidence as looking at "links in a chain".

Any of these single facts, he told the jury, would not be enough to convict but when taken together, they will prove O'Reilly's guilt beyond all reasonable doubt.

Mr Vaughan Buckley added he would prove that O'Reilly had the motive and opportunity to kill his wife.

On the day of the murder, he said Rachel dropped her son Luke to school at about 9.15am and then her youngest Adam to a creche 15 minutes later. He said CCTV footage will show a car similar to the victim's passing a quarry about half a mile from the family home. The car passes the quarry at 9.03 and 9.41.

Later the court heard a milkman will testify he dropped his delivery to the house at around 10am and he spotted Rachel's car in the drive way.

He will tell the court that the blinds were "drawn" and this was very unusual.

Mr Vaughan Buckley said shortly after this sighting Rachel was murdered.

He said more evidence will show her body was found after a call from the creche at 1.15pm to pick up Adam.

The jury was told: "The person who found the body was Rachel's mother Rose Callely.

"The accused went to collect Adam at the creche and tried to pick up Luke from school who had already been taken home."

The court heard Garda Tom Cleary arrived at the crime scene at 2.45pm and spoke to the accused.

O'Reilly told him he came home at 2.20pm and found a box of books beside Rachel's body. He said that he had moved them and that he had also touched the body.

The lawyer said O'Reilly told Garda Cleary: "I am really sorry, I'm probably after ruining it for you."

Jurors will also hear from Helen Reddy who spoke to the accused at 8pm on the night of the murder. The court will hear O'Reilly told her that gardai had told him there was "definitely no sexual assault" despite the fact Dr Cassidy's postmortem was not conducted until the following morning.

Mr Vaughan Buckley said the postmortem did find no evidence of sexual assault.

He asked the jury: "How would he have known this? He might have known this if he had killed her"

The prosecution lawyer said the jury would hear from Jacqueline O'Connor, who attended Adam's third birthday party at the Omniplex in Coolock, Dublin, on October 24, 2004.

After the party, O'Reilly invited Ms O'Connor back to his mother's house in Dunleer, Co Louth, were he told her he was afraid he was going to be framed for the murder.

He wanted Ms O'Connor to prove his innocence.

They will also hear from Fiona Slevin who attended Rachel's funeral on October 11 2004.

She will tell the court Mr O'Reilly said to her: "I don't know why they the Garda are searching the fields for the murder weapon. It is in the water."

Mr Vaughan Buckley said O'Reilly will claim he made a mistake and tried to backtrack claiming if he did do it, he would put the murder weapon into the water to "get rid of the DNA".

The court will also hear from them accused's workmate Michelle Slattery.

She will state O'Reilly arrived at the office of Viacom on the Bluebell Industrial Estate on the day of the murder at around midday.

She will describe O'Reilly as having "eyes puffy, face red and looked like he has been crying".

The counsel apologised to the jury for quoting Ms Slattery exactly. "Jesus, you look like s***," she said.

Justice White said this trial would attract a considerable amount of public interest.

He warned the jury they must only discuss the case among themselves and should avoid newspapers and watching news for the duration of the proceedings.

The court heard Detective Liam Lynham, of the Garda Photographic Bureau testify that he took extensive photos of the crime scene as well as several other locations, including the gents toilets in Broadstone Bus Garage.

Aine Doyle, teacher of Hedgetown National School told the court she had seen Rachel at 9.12am on the morning she was murdered.

She said Rachel handed over an insurance certificate and some money.

She told the court that a fellow mother Michelle Mulligan had picked up Luke from school after 2pm.

She said they had an arrangement where they would pick up each other's children on alternate days.

She said O'Reilly turned up to the school shortly afterwards and asked for Luke by name.

She told the court that she did not recognize him at first.

School Principal Eddie Kirk told the court he spotted a well-dressed, tall man wearing sunglasses walking to the school.

He said this was Mr O'Reilly.

The case continues.

news@irishmirror.ie

CAPTION(S):

TRAGIC: Rachel O'Reilly and her grave in Fingal Cemetery after her remains were exhumed; PAIN: Rachel's parents Rose and Jim Callely at court yesterday Picture: COLLINS; HUSBAND: Joe O''Reilly arrives at the first day of the trail yesterday Picture: COLLINS
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 26, 2007
Words:1409
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