BY ALISON O’RIORDAN
A PARK ranger who is on trial for murdering his West Cork wife said his life changed the night he took acid at a party.
James Kilroy (49), with an address at Kilbree Lower, Westport, Co Mayo is charged with murdering mother-of-three Valerie French Kilroy (41) at their home on a date unknown between June 13th and June 14th 2019, both dates inclusive.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charge by reason of insanity.
The jury in the trial has heard that the defendant described to gardai how he ‘waited in the long grass’ at night for his wife to return home from a meeting with friends before silently carrying out a ‘dark and frenzied’ attack on Valerie who he described as his ‘soulmate.’
The chief State pathologist told the trial that the occupational therapist died from ligature strangulation, blunt force trauma to the head and a stab wound to the neck.
Evidence has been given that gardaí found Valerie’s body lying in the foetal position on the floor of a campervan with her bloodied hand protruding outside the sliding door and a child’s car seat over her face.
Michael D Hourigan BL, prosecuting, read a statement from Garda Conor McHale. Dr Dijgla Faraj had informed Gda McHale that the accused said he had taken two grammes of cannabis and five units of alcohol on the evening of June 13th, which Mr Kilroy said he did on a weekly basis for the previous five years.
The doctor asked Kilroy if he remembered what had happened the previous night but he told her he couldn’t.
The accused, she said, had a few superficial scratches on his hands.
Earlier the trial heard how Kilroy said in an interview that in 2000, he moved to Scotland where he went to many parties in Edinburgh and got a job shooting red deer.
‘That was the first and only time I took cocaine,’ he said. But he went on to say that soon afterwards he got a job in Connemara National Park.
He later went to a party in Kildare, took acid and said ‘that night changed my life.’
He said he was having ‘bad thoughts and suicidal thoughts’ around this time and he said he had been admitted into psychiatric care in 2001.
Garda Leanne Nallen told the court that she was on duty at 9.30am on June 14th, when she and her colleague Garda Aisling Barrett received a call to attend a location in the Westport area where there were reports of a naked man running through fields.
When they arrived, Gda Nallen said the accused was completely naked in the left hand corner of a field and his hands were covering his genitals. ‘He was dirty and dishevelled looking with scrapes on his body, he appeared disorientated and in a very distressed state,’ she recalled.
Mr Kilroy told her he was on a pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick and that God had given him a path to follow.
She made a decision that the accused was suffering from a mental disorder and presented a threat of harm to himself or others.
‘His behaviour seemed not normal to me so I brought him to Westport Garda Station to get a doctor to assess him,’ she said.
She detained him under section 12 of the Mental Health Act 2001, and got an ambulance to bring him to Mayo University Hospital.
It was decided that he would be transferred to the adult mental health unit.
Mr Kilroy told the doctor present in the room that he would like to speak to gardaí when he was informed about this.
Gda Nallen testified that Kilroy then confessed to killing his ‘wife and kids.’
Gda Nallen arrived with Gda Barrett at the Kilroy home at 2.55pm that day, knocked at the front door and shouted out.
One of the children came to a front window and the witness asked if his mammy or daddy were there.
The child said he couldn’t find them and they must have gone to work.
A second child joined the first child at the window and after the gardaí entered the kitchen area through the back door they found a third ‘extremely lethargic’ child lying on the ground asleep.
‘I noted there were dirty dishes on the counter, clothes were thrown around, the countertops were messy and flower pots on the window sill were knocked over,’ said Gda Nallen, who became emotional recalling that two of the children’s nappies were extremely soiled and that the front of the other child’s school uniform was extremely dirty.
There was also a smell of urine in the living room.
Gda Nallen remained in the living room with the three children whilst Gda Barrett helped to locate Ms French Kilroy.
Gda Barrett soon informed the witness that a body had been located outside.
Gda Nallen and Gda Barrett sourced nappies for the two children and changed them. When she asked the older child if he had eaten, he told her that the three of them had shared a banana.
Another garda went to the local shop to buy cereal and food as it was obvious that they were extremely hungry, she said. The trial later heard one of the children had asked for ‘Coco Pops’.
Prosecution barrister Michael D Hourigan read a statement from Gda Barrett, who said she had found a green Ford campervan.
As she reached the back of the vehicle the garda saw a large amount of blood on the rear and at the side of the van. She observed a hand hanging out from the opened passenger door. A child’s seat was placed over the body and she informed her colleagues of having found a female body whom she believed to be Ms French Kilroy.
Det Sgt Michael Doherty told the trial that gardaí arrested Mr Kilroy at Mayo University Hospital at 5.17pm on June 14th.
In one interview the accused had demonstrated how he had killed his wife and the knife he used.
In the final interview he sketched the knife he used and described how he put the deceased into the camper van.
He was charged with murder on June 16th at 5.45pm. Det Sgt Doherty said a hatchet with blood on it had been found in the campervan and the blood matched Mr Kilroy’s DNA profile.
Under cross-examination, Det Sgt Doherty agreed with Mr Gageby that the Leap woman was an immensely popular woman particularly amongst the healthcare community in Castlebar.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Camilla Curtis from Mayo Mental Health Services said she spoke to Mr Kilroy and noted his thoughts were disordered and that he was displaying some persecutory delusions.
‘He mentioned his wife was going to harm him, that God had a particular mission for him and that he had to follow some commandments,’ she recalled.
He told her he was experiencing visual hallucinations and could see the dead.
Dr Curtis queried the patient about his use of drugs and he admitted using cannabis but said he hadn’t used it for 10 days and used to grow it. He said he would use the drug every two days and was smoking it for the past 19 years.
He described to gardaí how he ‘waited in the long grass’ at night for his wife to return home from a meeting with friends before silently carrying out a frenzied attack on his ‘soulmate.’
He added: ‘She was talking when I left her, I had to get out, she morphed into a zombie’.
The jury also heard Ms French Kilroy was his first real love, that she had shown him ‘the brighter side’ of life.
‘It was love at first sight, she was everything,’ he added.
Kilroy said he met Valerie on holidays when she was 18 and he was 21 years old.
He proposed to her in 2007 and that they shared ‘good times and good parties.’ They didn’t have sex until they were married and he had to get ‘checked out’ later, he said.
‘I was the problem, not producing any sperm’. The couple had their first child in 2013.
The accused said he grew two cannabis plants at home to help his anxiety but had been feeling strange for quite some time.
He said Valerie was ‘always dead against drugs’.
He also said: ‘I love Valerie and she loves me. We hold hands at the table every morning and say prayers.’
He said Valerie was ‘pissed’ on June 13th as he was ‘being an ass’.
When she was out meeting her friends that evening he took a bath and cut his hair.
He said he jumped out the back window when it was getting dark and he ‘waited in the long grass’ for her to return.
He said he heard a car and that it was Valerie. ‘I heard her say “James is that you?”. I didn’t say anything. I ran, pushed her up against the door, slit her throat,’ he said.
Mr Kilroy described it as a ‘battle’ with Valerie delivering ‘strong kicks and punches’ and ‘blood everywhere.’
‘I was nasty, killed her with my bare hands, felt the dead were going to get me and she was the leader,’ he said.
He said he slit her throat as she came out towards the shed and then ‘smashed Valerie’s head off the ground’, adding: ‘It was surreal, something you do in a comic book … I knew I f***ed up.’
He said he was going to do all the commandments … ‘murder done, adultery next’.
He said he put Valerie in the camper van, closed the door and walked away.
Meanwhile, a guest who was renting an Airbnb room in the rural Mayo home of Valerie French Kilroy told gardai he was ‘shocked’ to hear the Leap woman was killed by her husband during his stay.
In a statement read to the jury, Martin Sullivan said he had booked a room through Airbnb at Kilbree Lower for June 12th and 13th and had communicated with Valerie. Mr Sullivan said he was greeted by here on his arrival on the evening of July 12 and she directed him to his accommodation in a self-contained area at the side of the house.
Mr Sullivan said he worked on his laptop until 11pm that night.
While he was sitting at the table working he saw a man walking past his window in the direction of the back of the house.
The man acknowledged Mr Sullivan and gave him a wave sometime between 8pm and 9pm that night when he [the man] walked by him for a second time.
The witness said he heard nothing that night until his alarm went off at 7.20am the next morning and he left for work around 7.45am.
Mr Sullivan said he saw the news on the afternoon of June 15th and was shocked to hear ‘the mother was murdered.’
On Wednesday the trial ‘unforeseeably come to a bump in the road.’
High Court judge Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring told the jury of 10 men and two women that a matter had arisen which had been unknown to all parties.
‘No one is at fault, it is not something that could have been foreseen or dealt with. It has led to both parties needing further time,’ she said. ‘As you have seen, trials involve real people in real time unlike what you watch on TV,’ she said.
Ms Justice Ring said the matter would not be resolved on Wednesday and rather than bringing the jury back on Thursday ‘in the hope that matters are resolved’ she asked them to return to court on Monday afternoon.
Adjourning the case until the next week, she said: ‘That will give all parties time to sort out the issues.’