Starting a Life Sentence, just Before Xmas, Alleged Homosexual Lovers, then it all went, Terribly Wrong?

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Aaron Connolly found guilty of murder of Cameron Reilly in Dunleer, Co Louth

The teenager’s body was found in the field at Shamrock Hill by a man out walking his dog the following morning, May 26, 2018.

Fiona MagennisIndependent.ie

16th December 2022

A 23-year-old man has been found guilty of the murder of Cameron Reilly, the teenager who was found dead in a field in Dunleer, County Louth in May 2018.

The Central Criminal Court jury of seven women and five men returned a unanimous verdict on Thursday afternoon on what was their third day of deliberations in the case.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt thanked the jury for their hard work telling them they had put in a “very hard and long shift”.

“These are terribly difficult matters,” he added.

He exempted each of them from jury duty for a period of 15 years.

The jury had been deliberating for a total of 10 hours and 39 minutes.

The late Cameron Reilly
The late Cameron Reilly

Aaron Connolly, Willistown, Drumcar had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Reilly (18) at Shamrock Hill, Dunleer on May 26, 2018.

DKIT student Cameron Reilly had been out socialising with friends on the night of May 25, 2018 at a field just outside the town.

Friends of Mr Reilly told the trial a group of around 15 young people gathered in the field on the night and alcohol and cannabis were consumed. The group then went to a local takeaway to get food shortly after midnight before moving away at 12.40am.

The teenager’s body was found in the field at Shamrock Hill by a man out walking his dog the following morning, May 26, 2018.

State Pathologist Linda Mulligan told the jury Mr Reilly’s cause of death was asphyxia due to external pressure on the neck with no other contributing factors.

During the trial, the court heard that in his initial statement to gardaí, Connolly said he and Mr Reilly went in different directions at the end of the night and after the pair parted near to the Beechwood housing estate in Dunleer, he “never looked back” to see which way Cameron went.

Last week, lawyers for Connolly, who denied murdering the 18-year-old at Shamrock Hill, Dunleer, told the court the accused had oral sex with Mr Reilly on the night he was killed.

Counsel for the defence, Michael Bowman SC made a proof by formal admission to the court on behalf of Aaron Connolly.

He said that Aaron Connolly performed oral sex on Cameron Reilly and when he left, Mr Reilly was still alive and standing up.

In his garda interviews, Connolly said he could not remember what he was doing during a “missing hour” on the night Cameron Reilly died violently as he had taken a combination of drugs that made him black out.

He told gardaí: “I know I didn’t kill him, I’d know if I killed someone.”

Connolly told investigating officers he had taken two grammes of cocaine and half a gramme of MDMA.

The jury also heard that Connolly denied that anything sexual happened between him and Mr Reilly and told gardaí that he was “straight”.

Forensic scientist Doctor Clara Boland gave evidence that an immunological test on a penile swab of Mr Reilly revealed human saliva that was a mixture of two people, the major sample being Mr Reilly’s own and the minor being an incomplete profile that matched Mr Connolly’s DNA.

Friends of Mr Reilly gave evidence to the trial that the teenager had confided in them that he was bisexual shortly before his death.

The murder trial also heard evidence from Jack Conway, who said he and Aaron Connolly had sexual relations on a number of occasions when they were teenagers. He told prosecution counsel that he and the accused went on to have about 20 sexual encounters subsequently.

Mr Conway said Aaron Connolly would tell people he was straight.

In her evidence to the court, Chief State Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan said during a post-mortem examination, she found evidence of external injury to the neck in the form of abrasions and bruising and there was also evidence of deep bruising around the neck and the hyoid bone.

“All of these features are in keeping with the application of external pressure on the neck. This was the cause of death,” she said.

There were no obvious ligature marks or circular bruises, the pathologist told the court, and the injuries sustained were more in keeping with a chokehold or the application of a rough surface implement to the neck.

In his closing statement to the jury, prosecuting counsel Dean Kelly SC contended Aaron Connolly had “lied from the beginning of this investigation to the end” because he murdered his friend.

He said the “constant fox-like evolution” of the lies told by Mr Connolly rebuts the suggestion that a young person might lie to protect his personal sexual preferences.

Mr Kelly said in a sense this case was about lies and about science. He said lies are the subject of “grey areas” but science tells the truth.

People lie for all kinds of reasons, Mr Kelly said, “but science tells us certain things and it tells us those things with absolute certainty.”

However, defence counsel Michael Bowman SC argued “strategic lies” were told by several young people who were there on the night. He said people had lied about drug and alcohol use in a murder trial because they were afraid.

Mr Bowman told the jury: “The law says the mere fact that the defendant lies is not evidence enough. They may lie out of panic and confusion; they may lie because they’re afraid for all sorts of reasons.”

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