The first casualty of the high-profile murder trial is the victim's privacy, not to mention dignity. In death, the most intimate details of her life, her personality, her body are thrust into the public domain. She becomes public property. She is projected onto the public consciousness as a tragic heroine, writ large in headlines and tabloid script by her first name only, as if she was a pop star in the fullness of celebrity, rather than a deceased woman known only for the manner of her dying.
Celine Cawley was the victim in the trial of her husband Eamonn Lillis. The jury had to decide whether or not he bore responsibility for her death. But the nature of the process was such that her whole persona was subjected to a selective post mortem. Widespread interest in the trial ensured there was no concession to basic female vanity.
The details tumbled out in evidence. Forty-six-year-old Celine Cawley had been grossly overweight, officially obese. The postural asphyxia, which contributed to her death, was accentuated due to her weight and an enlarged heart.
Her husband told the court that she snored (although he added that he did also). She and her husband slept in separate beds, a habit that was formed soon after the birth of their daughter, who was 16 years old when her mother died.
Details of her unfit condition contrasted with the photos of her much younger self that began appearing in newspapers as the trial wore on. The images show a dark beauty, who earned her crust modelling and once landed a minor acting role in the Bond movie, A View To A Kill.
She was given to sudden volatility, if her husband is to be believed. On the morning of her death, 15 December 2008, he maintains that she flew into an irrational rage. She berated him for his failure to put out mealworm for birds, as he had promised to do three days previously. He claims she attacked him with a brick, lashing out in a manner redolent of a loose cannon.
"She was the dominant partner in the marriage," Lillis's counsel Brendan Grehan pointed out. She was that, but she was also the main breadwinner, the partner whose hard work had ensured that the couple enjoyed a life of luxury.
Her dominance was trotted out for public consumption in other ways. Jean Treacy, with whom 52-year-old Lillis was having an affair, recalled a day when Cawley phoned Lillis in an irate manner, instructing him to return the family's Mercedes jeep.
"She told him to get home now," Treacy testified. "It wasn't what she said, it was the way she said it."
The privacy of the family home was breached in pursuit of the truth about Cawley's death. The court was treated to a video tour of Rowan Hill in Howth. A camera moved through the rooms, the journey lurching between a ghoulish tour and an episode of Location, Location, Location.
In other times, this house sang to the sound of parties that Cawley liked to throw. She was particularly renowned for Christmas get-togethers, one of which was scheduled for the upcoming holiday season at the time of her death.
Judge Barry White asked, in the absence of the jury, what purpose was served by showing the video, beyond appealing to prurience. It was a minor but telling detail of the exposé of a life that, in death, had become public property.
The court was treated only to details of Cawley's character that affected the trial. There was little of her role as a mother, or the attributes required to run a highly successful business, as she had done with Toytown Films. The process didn't require any testimony from friends or family who claim that the deceased woman had a kind, gregarious side.
She built up the business from scratch. The couple owned three homes, including a property in France. All were mortgage free. Despite their equal billing as directors, without Cawley, none of it would have happened.
She came from a comfortable background, the daughter of solicitor James Cawley. Her brother Chris is also in the advertising business, a partner in the highly successful Cawley Nea firm. Her sister Susanna practices as a solicitor in Kildare, while another sister died.
A former employee, Emma O'Beirne, told how things operated in Toytown Films.
"She [Cawley] was strong. She was the boss really. Eamonn would have taken a back seat. He wouldn't be involved in the day-to-day running of the company. He would have been at home more collecting and dropping off [their daughter). He wouldn't have been in the office as much as Celine."
Toytown was wound up a few months after Cawley's death. Lillis, as a 50% shareholder, is in line to receive around €350,000 from the liquidation.
The laying bare of the private life of the deceased woman was in sharp contrast to the protection afforded the privacy of a living protagonist in the case. Thirty-two-year-old Jean Treacy was ghosted in and out of court by gardaí through back entrances and a private elevator. She was surrounded by a protective cordon in court. The photographers who snapped Lilis every day were cheated out of a prize photo.
Treacy delivered her evidence in a calm, assured manner. She has been through her own nightmare.
Her fiancé Keith Fahy was mentioned by name in a note retrieved from Lillis bedroom, an exhibit for the prosecution in which he mused over his doomed affair. Treacy is still due to marry the same man, next June, a year after the initially planned date of their nuptials.
Her character was also up for grabs in the process. Lillis's counsel suggested in summing up that she was the instigator of the affair, her prey flattered that someone so young and attractive was drawn to him.
"I thought it was love but I can see now that it was infatuation," she told the court.
Every morning during the 14-day trial, Eamonn Lillis walked tall through the front doors of the new Criminal Courts of Justice building. Every morning, before he got within 30 yards of the door, a scrum of photographers descended on him. Buttons clicked, flashes lit. The silence of the encounter was broken only by the sound of the snappers retreating as Lillis advanced.
His former lover described him as a "dreamer", a description that appeared more apt with every detail that tumbled out.
He told the court that he was art director. He and Cawley were married in 1991, within a year of first dating. He joined his wife's company two years after she set it up. "She said I could be a good asset," he said. In reality, he owed his employment almost completely to his marriage.
"Eamonn never did very much," one industry source remembers. "He'd just sit in the corner writing, but not necessarily scripts for advertisements they were working on. He fancied himself as a bit of a fiction writer, but I don't think he ever had much published."
Jean Treacy provided a similar picture in her garda statement, describing Lillis as "refined, gentle, a bit of a dreamer".
In an interview with the gardaí, it was put to him that his wife was bringing in €500,000 per annum, five times his remuneration.
Detective sergeant Enda Mulryan suggested in an interview that he was really just a gofer in the company.
"That's very harsh," Lillis replied.
"Was it the case that when she said jump, you said how high?"
"No, not always. She'd tell me how to do things at work".
He may have had notions above his station. He told the court that one of the early insults that his wife flung at him in the fateful row was that he wasn't bringing in any new business. In reality, he never brought in any business. She was the doer, he the dreamer.
His evidence was notable for the absence of any expression of regret. He was denying responsibility for his wife's death, so he couldn't plead regret for that. He didn't regret not walking away when his wife allegedly exploded. He didn't offer the customary plaintive cry of "if only the clock could be turned back". There was no expression of love for a partner who died in the midst of a domestic row. His voice thickened with emotion on a few occasions during his evidence, but maybe he was determined to retain some privacy amid a public feeding frenzy.
Lillis did not possess any of the traits that can be detected in a man capable of premeditated killing. He was not violent. He was not a control freak. There is nothing to suggest he was dangerously possessive, and nothing that would indicate a sociopath. He may well have been an excellent father to his daughter. While his wife was the dominant partner, it appears to have been an arrangement that suited both of their temperaments.
On the morning in question, however, Lillis was enjoying an added dimension to his life. He was having an intense affair with a much younger woman. His self-esteem must have been going through the roof.
"I'm not suggesting it was anything other than a fling," his counsel told the court. "But conceivably he might have responded differently to how he might have in a row with his wife otherwise."
The suggestion implied that this time, when a row flared, he wasn't prepared to be dominated. This time he was going to stand up for himself, and in the ensuing violence, Cawley ended up dead. Nobody but Lillis now knows what happened that morning. He lied about it immediately afterwards, spinning a cock and bull yarn about an intruder. He kept up the lie until he told his daughter a week after he was charged with murder. The jury, by dint of their verdict, believed he was still lying in the trial.
The pathology evidence disputes his contention that his wife's three main injuries could have been sustained by two falls and being thrust up against a window.
"I jabbed her on the shoulder with my fingers. She took a swipe at me. I don't think she meant to hit me but she caught me on the side of my face. I got extremely angry and pushed her back towards the sliding doors," he said.
He denies ever hitting her with a brick, yet forensics retrieved a hair from the bloodstained brick.
When he left his wife on the deck, she was sitting up and conscious. That takes some believing. He went into the house to stage a robbery, a strategy he claims to have agreed with his wife while she was still conscious. They were going to claim their injuries were sustained in an attack by a burglar.
He put the "stolen" camera equipment and most of his blood stained clothes in a bag in the attic. This was before 10am. Their daughter would not have been home from school until 4pm.
Meanwhile, unbeknown to him, his wife was bleeding to death downstairs on the deck at the rear of the house. The pathological evidence was that her life might well have been saved if she had received prompt medical attention.
It's a fantastic story, worthy of a script for a half-decent fiction writer. The jury concluded that he had unlawfully killed his wife, but that the state had failed to prove intent to murder.
Towards the end of a highly effective closing speech to the jury, Grehan asked them to consider the case through the words of one of the detectives who interviewed Lillis. (That a defence counsel was favourably referencing a detective's description of his client indicates the bizarre nature of the case).
Detective Paul Donovan put it to Lillis: "It's obvious a terrible tragedy happened. Everything points to the fact you had a row with Celine. It is within all of us to crack up and get very, very angry. Your head flipped that morning.
"From what I heard about you, everybody, to the last person, is saying you are a nice guy, a gentle, caring person. You have to face up to what happened."
Nobody but he knows what happened on that cold December morning, but all the indications are that it started out as an average domestic row.
The sour currents that must have been flowing through the union led to Cawley dying violently, certainly within half an hour of the flare-up.
Her husband is due before the Central Criminal Court next Thursday for a sentencing hearing.