THE trial opened in the Central Criminal Court in Tralee this week of a Kerry man charged with the murder of a Brazilian man, who lived in Gort. The court has heard that Bruno Lemes de Souza was “savagely killed” and his body found weeks later in a drain in a bog near Listowel.
John Paul Cawley (22) of Ardoughter, Ballyduff, has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr de Souza at Shronowen Bog, Tullamore, on February 16 or 17, 2012.
Opening the case before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, senior counsel for the prosecution, Conor Devally said the jury would hear evidence of an extended family living in North Kerry, including a Brazilian man, Wenio Rodriguez da Silva, his partner Sandra Cawley, their two young children, and Ms Cawley’s two brothers, Charlie Cawley and the accused, John Paul Cawley.
Arrangements were made with the deceased, who lived in Gort, to call to Mr da Silva’s house at Ardoughter on February 16 in connection with a car.
However, “matters got out of hand” and Mr de Souza was assaulted in a small room off the kitchen, the court heard. He was allegedly tied up and removed to the attic of the two-storey house at Ardoughter.
Later, three persons left a car in a remote bog road – Mr de Souza, Mr da Silva and John Paul Cawley – and walked into the darkness up a boggy lane and “Mr de Souza was savagely killed”, Mr Devally said.
He was knifed several times and his body left to be found in a boggy area adjacent to the lane, counsel said.
Mr de Souza’s body was found some weeks later, floating in a drain in the bog, with his hands tied with orange twine, a garda forensic photographic witness said.
A knife was recovered by the garda divers unit at the Ferry bridge over the Cashen River, the estuary of the River Feale.
Sandra Cawley, the former partner of Mr da Silva and sister of the accused, told the jury that some time after Mr de Souza had arrived at their home in a silver car that Mr da Silva was to buy, Mr de Souza had gone to help her former partner fix a boiler and she had heard “a thud”, or a bang.
Mr da Silva had “a big bar”, like the one used for taking wheels off cars, Ms Cawley said. She saw Mr de Souza lying on the floor and he told her to call the guards.
Mr da Silva told her to “get out”.
She told how she had been afraid of Mr da Silva and had got a barring order against him when they were living in Nenagh.
Continuing with her evidence on Wednesday, Ms Cawley explained she was living in Ardoughter along with her brother, John Paul and another brother, Charlie, and her then partner, Wenio Rodriguez da Silva, and her two children, aged one and two.
Ms Cawley said Mr de Souza had telephoned her for directions in order to call to their house to sell her former partner, Mr da Silva, a car. Mr de Souza was not known to her.
Mr de Souza arrived at the house in North Kerry on the evening of February 16. He and Mr da Silva had been in the kitchen drinking coffee, she said. She was in the sitting room. She did not understand Portuguese but the tone of the conversation was friendly, she felt.
Ms Cawley said Mr da Silva left the kitchen and arrived into the sitting room in an “agitated” state and told her, “Bruno is going around Gort saying to other Brazilians your voice sounded sexy and you probably look hot!”
“He [Mr da Silva] said he was going to beat him up and I said ‘why are you going to beat up somebody over something stupid like that’,” she told Anthony Sammon, SC for the defence, in cross-examination.
Possibly 10 minutes later, she heard a noise (described on Tuesday as “a thud”) from the utility or laundry room.
Mr de Souza was in the corner with his hands over his head and Mr da Silva had a wheel brace in his hands, she told the court.
The deceased asked her to call the guards but Mr da Silva told her to get out. She did not call the gardaí or run to a neighbour for help.
She said she was “petrified” of Mr da Silva, “who had beaten her up a number of occasions”, she replied to Mr Sammon. Her brothers were also afraid of him, she told the defence counsel.
Earlier, answering Mr Devally, SC for the prosecution, Ms Cawley told how Mr de Souza was led from the laundry room and imprisoned in the attic, where he remained under the guard of her brother, Charlie Cawley, while another Brazilian man, also from Gort, arrived to the house at Ardoughter in connection with an air ticket for Brazil.
She and Mr da Silva, the children and her brothers were planning to go to Brazil for a month and the cost would be around €6,000, this man had said.
When the ticket man left, Mr de Souza was brought down from the attic.
She told of being driven along with the children through Ballyduff, then Lisselton Cross, to a remote bog road, which she had ever only visited once.
It was a moonlit night and she saw Mr de Souza being led down towards the bog, held between her brother, John Paul Cawley and her former partner, Mr da Silva.
Some time later, only the accused, John Paul Cawley and Mr da Silva returned and the latter removed all his clothes before getting into the car. It was around 1am.
During the drive home, Mr da Silva and the accused spoke about what went on in the bog, Ms Cawley told Mr Devally.
“They were saying the way they stabbed Bruno. John Paul said, ‘I stabbed Bruno once in the heart’. Wenio fell into the bog with Bruno when John Paul stabbed him,” she heard them say in the car.
Under cross-examination, Mr Sammon put it to Ms Cawley that what she heard was that the accused man stabbed Mr de Souza “once” and that he never said he had stabbed him “in the heart”. However, Ms Cawley insisted she heard her brother, John Paul, say he stabbed Mr de Souza in the heart.
Ms Cawley also said on the way back from the bog, John Paul Cawley had thrown two knives into the Cashen River, the estuary of the River Feale. She identified a knife shown to her as one of her kitchen knives.
Back in the house, she had begun to clean up blood from the utility room with water and bleach, after being ordered to do so by Mr da Silva but had not completed the clean-up.
“I just got sick of it and I went out to Wenio and I said ‘clean up your own mess’ and I went to bed,” she said.
The trial also heard how Ms Cawley was one of 11 children and had a difficult life. The Cawley children had been in foster care and the family had been separated. It also heard that Ms Cawley was a recovering alcoholic.
Charlie Cawley told the jury he had been “terrified” of Mr da Silva, who threatened to kill him also if he revealed what had taken place.
Everything he did, including guarding Mr de Souza in the attic, had been out of fear of Mr da Silva, he said.
The trial before a jury of four women and eight men is continuing this Thursday.
By Anne Lucey