‘Ken was a wonderful son we will miss him terribly’

By Brendan Grehan

A FATHER-of-five from Finglas has been sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering Clondalkin man, Kenneth O’Brien, over two years ago.

Paul Wells (50) shot Mr O’Brien (33) in the head before dismembering his body with a chainsaw and dumping Mr O’Brien’s remains in the Grand Canal.

New photograph of Kenneth OBrien

Kenneth O'Brien's body was found in the Grand Canal

Wells, with an address at Barnamore Park, Finglas, but who is originally from Ballyfermot, had pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr O’Brien at that address between January 15 and 16, 2016.

He admitted that he shot him dead but said it happened when they struggled during a row after Mr O’Brien turned up at his home with a gun.

The accused claimed Mr O’Brien had wanted to have his partner Eimear Dunne murdered and Mr Wells refused to kill her.

After the shooting, Wells chopped the body up with a chainsaw, put the torso in a suitcase and his head and limbs in shopping bags, which he dumped in the Grand Canal in Co Kildare.

The jury had been deliberating for five hours and nine minutes and they returned with a verdict on Tuesday afternoon.

During the three-week trial, the jury heard that on January 16, 2016, a couple out walking by the Grand Canal at Ardclough, Co Kildare found a suitcase floating in the water.

When they opened it they thought it looked like human remains and called gardai, who found a human torso inside.

A post mortem found the head and limbs had been cut “neatly” off with a chainsaw and gardai launched a murder investigation.

The torso was identified as Mr O’Brien’s from a DNA sample taken from his mother.

Then, on January 24, his head and limbs were found in shopping bags in the Grand Canal at Sallins.

A second post mortem found he had died from a single gunshot wound, and the muzzle of the weapon had been pressed against the back of his head when it was fired.

Kenneth O’Brien had been reported missing after he failed to return from work the previous day to his home at Lealand Road, Clondalkin.

In his victim impact statement, the deceased’s father, Gerry O’Brien said the Ken that had emerged in the trial was not the Ken the family knew and loved.

Mr O’Brien said: “Ken was a wonderful son. We will miss him terribly. We can never have him back.”

He told of how Ken was a hard worker from the age of 15. And though he did not find it easy to express himself, they always knew what he meant.

“He was a lovely child to rear,” he said.

“For me, there will be a pain in my heart, a cold place in my heart for what has happened to Ken and that cold place will be with me forever more,” he concluded.

A second victim impact statement written by Ms Dunne, the partner of Mr O’Brien, was read aloud in court by Garda Aine O’Sullivan of the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Ms Dunne told how Kenneth had returned home “for good” from Australia that December. Her birthday was on Thursday, January 14, 2016.

“I celebrated that day as a family with Charlie, had planned to spend the weekend celebrating but that never happened because Kenneth never came home.

"No mother should have to do what I had to do, in telling our beautiful boy that his idol, his father, was never coming home,” her statement said.

“I put aside my grief to care for our grieving child. The impact that this murder has had on an innocent four-year-old is immeasurable.”

Kenneth was a family man who “idolised their son”, she said, adding that they had been like “two peas in a pod”.

She said she would do “everything in her power to make sure that Kenneth's memory was kept alive and that Charlie will remember all the good things about his dad”.

As he was led out of the courtroom to begin his mandatory life sentence, Wells looked at the O’Brien family and Ms Dunne and said: “I’m sorry”.

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