A man whose brother was killed by their sister has told her sentencing hearing that he has been unable to get over the “savage” killing which involved father of one Paul Jones being stabbed 25 times and hit over the head with a bill hook.
Helen Jones and her former partner Keith O’Hara on Friday received mandatory life sentences for the murder of Mr Jones (55) who was killed at his home in Bandon Road in the Lough in Cork city on September 4th, 2019.
This followed a 10-person jury at the Central Criminal Court sitting in Cork delivering a unanimous guilty verdict for both co accused on Thursday following a lengthy trial.
Mr Justice Michael McGrath imposed the life sentence on the pair for the “senseless, violent and frenzied attack” on Mr Jones.
The murder occurred amid a dispute over the ownership of the Jones family home in Cahergal Avenue in Mayfield in Cork city. The two defendants were living in the house prior to the murder but it was being sold with Helen due to receive a portion of monies from the sale.
Liam Jones, the 53-year-old brother of the late Paul Jones, said in a victim impact statement that the actions of the co-accused had left him “shell shocked.”
Mr Jones said that nothing could have prepared him for the news of the “savage” murder of of his much loved older brother.
He stated that the pair had become “very close” in the years before Paul was murdered at his home. He saw his brother three to four times a week and Paul came to his home for dinner every Sunday.
“We had a strong bond. I can’t seem to get over Paul’s death and how he died. When I heard that Paul had died I thought it was from a heart attack. When I realised how he died I was shell shocked. I went in to a state of numbness and disbelief.
When I heard of Paul’s death, how savage it was, the shock took over for 24 hours and I couldn’t take anything else in. This was a tragic death that Paul had and he didn’t deserve it.”
Mr Jones said that his older brother “changed his whole life” in the years before he died.
“Paul lived a quiet life and only went out two or three times a week to do some shopping. Paul’s death left a big void in my life and life has not been the same since 2019. When the verdict came out as guilty I felt that my brother got justice. Hopefully Paul can now rest in peace.”
Meanwhile, another relative, who asked not to be named, said the family never got to see Paul after he died because his injuries were so severe.
“The casket had to be closed. I never got the opportunity to properly say goodbye to him. I think of his last moments and what he must have been thinking. I wonder what he suffered.”
“The house in Cahergal Avenue is still there but Paul is not and that is due to their actions. A house is only bricks and mortar but Paul was a live human being.”
The Jones family thanked gardaí for their immense support in the wake of the tragedy.
Meanwhile, Dt Sgt Joe Young said that Keith O’Hara (43) was one of nine children – two of whom are deceased. He told the court that O’Hara had 39 previous convictions including a conviction in the UK of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
He said that Helen Jones (54) had 47 previous convictions three of which were in the Circuit Court. Her convictions were for amongst other crimes assault, theft and arson.
He added she hailed from a family of five and that she had four adult children of her own.
Mr Justice Michael McGrath praised investigating gardaí for their “meticulous” work in the case. He stressed that the murder had profoundly impacted on the Jones family. He also extended his condolences to the loved ones of the deceased.
Mr Justice McGrath sentenced the two accused to life imprisonment with Helen Jones and Keith O’Hara receiving four year and three year sentences respectively for trespassing with intent to cause harm at the home of Paul Jones. These sentences will run concurrently to the life sentences.
Meanwhile, acrimony over the inheritance of the family home was the motive for the murder of Mr Jones.
Keith O’Hara had told gardaí that he and Helen were at home watching the soaps and the prison drama “Orange is the New Black” on the night Paul Jones was murdered.
The trial heard that witnesses saw Helen Jones dressed in a bathrobe and slippers using a knife to bang on the door of the home of her brother Paul Jones on September 4th, 2019.
One witness, who was walking her dog, recalled that Ms Jones was outside the home of her brother Paul at Bandon Road at around 9.30pm with no shoes on her feet.
Another eyewitness said that she saw a man covered in blood in the hallway of the house on Bandon Road. She gave evidence that she heard the woman remark to the man “That is what you get, you got off light.”
Student Emily O’Sullivan said that she saw another man in a distressed state with his hand up to the wall.
“On the floor right inside the front door there was a very large man with his feet towards the door, on his side. I only looked for a second but it was covered in blood. He was lying lengthways in the hall. All I remember was blood — it was just everywhere. The woman looked very casual, like she was at home after getting out of bed or something. She was mumbling on the man at the ground. I cannot remember exactly what she said but it was to the effect, “That is what you get.’ I think she said something along the lines of, ‘You got off light.”
Taxi driver, Pat Moynihan said that he picked up Helen Jones and Keith O’Hara at 27 Cahergal Avenue in Mayfield on the north side of Cork city and brought them to Bandon Road at around 9.30pm on the night of September 4th, 2019. He was not acquainted with Helen’s then boyfriend Keith O”Hara but he knew Helen to see with the deceased also being known to him.
Mr Moynihan said in evidence that Helen Jones got in to a car with a staggering and drunk man she introduced to him as ‘Keith.” He recalled that Helen got out of the taxi on Bandon Road.
“She would have been shouting and banging at the door. She was calling Paul by name. I parked right outside the house. So I could see Paul (Jones) facing me. He was wearing nothing only his boxer shorts. Keith is in the passenger seat with me. I think Helen is gone in to the house.”
Mr Moynihan said that Keith later got out of car. The trial heard that Keith O’Hara and Helen Jones left the property within seven minutes of arriving. The couple got a taxi back from another taxi driver from nearby MacCurtain Villas to Cahergal Avenue. Mr O’Hara’s blood was later found in the