There were two calls to Howth garda station that morning. The first confirmed the bare facts. A woman – mistakenly referred to as an elderly woman – had been seriously assaulted in a house on Windgate Road.
Garda Colm Murray took the call in the public office of the Howth station. He alerted his colleagues and prepared to go to the scene. He was on his way out the door when the second call came through. This relayed that the assault may have been committed by an intruder. Murray and Sergeant Brian Cloone set off on the short journey up Howth hill. It was 10.10am on the morning of 15 December 2008. A frost from the previous night was still lingering on the hill.
The telephone calls to Howth gardaí originated in the offices of Dublin fire brigade in the city centre. At 10.04am, dispatcher Kevin Moran took a call from a man who sounded highly emotional. "My wife has been attacked," the man said.
"Can you give me the full address," Moran asked. "Calm down. Breathe."
The man replied: "A guy attacked my wife in the back of the house… Rowan Hill, on the summit of Howth."
Moran went on: "Is the patient breathing?"
"I don't think so," the man said. Moran talked him through attempts to revive the patient, assured him that help was on the way.
Out at the residence in question, 51-year-old Eamonn Lillis was standing over his wife, who lay on the decking to the rear of their home. Celine Cawley was 46 and her body was showing none of the vital signs of life. A pool of blood had formed in the area where her head lay. Lillis was listening to the emergency dispatcher on the cordless phone, following the instructions issued to him.
Within minutes, a voice called out from inside the house. The gardaí had arrived from Howth.
At 10.56am Celine Cawley was pronounced dead. The Central Criminal Court heard last week that the cause would eventually be determined as blunt-force trauma to her head, the result of the application of a number of blows. Cawley and Lillis lived with their only child, a 16-year-old daughter who hours earlier had left home with her father, en route to what was expected to be just another day at school.
Immediately, the cops had a lead on the violent death. According to Lillis, he had returned from walking the couple's three dogs to find an intruder standing over his wife. He had tackled the masked individual, who had eventually run off, out through the rear of the property. Seated at a table in the kitchen of his home, Lillis told Detective Inspector Angela Willis what had happened.
"When he arrived back he said he went into the kitchen and saw a fellow on the ground gripping her. He said the man was attacking his wife," the garda told the court last Wednesday.
Lillis described the intruder as young, strong and wiry, wearing a rucksack, which had dark straps. The intruder also wore gloves.
"Whatever it takes, I just want him caught," Lillis told the officer. A major garda search, which included alerting the air-support unit, was launched. The intruder was never found.
Last Tuesday, at the outset of Eamonn Lillis's trial for murdering his wife, his lawyer conceded that there was no intruder. Brendan Grehan SC said that his client was admitting that he had lied to the emergency services and the gardaí. There had been nobody else present in the house on the morning his wife died.
Lillis denies murdering his wife. His trial is taking place on the sixth floor of the new criminal court building on Parkgate Street, near the main entrance to the Phoenix Park. The case has generated serious interest among the media and public.
Most violent deaths which result in a murder trial involve a victim and accused from the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder. Everybody is equal before the law, but the public imagination is flared when violent tragedy is visited on those who appear to have it all in material terms.
Throw in the whiff of celebrity, courtesy of a decades' old movie role of the deceased as a Bond girl, and the public's interest is ratcheted up a few more notches. On Friday, the court service provided an overflow room for the public where they could watch a live feed of the trial.
Lillis is a slim, compact man, who, apart from a cap of grey hair, shows few signs of the wear and tear of middle age. He managed to largely keep in check whatever emotions he was going through last week, as his wife's death and their life together was raked over in public. For the most part, he keeps his eyes on documents, reading glasses perched on his nose.
Celine Cawley's elderly father attended court every day, accompanied by his son and daughter. At times during the week, when aspects of the evidence heightened their sense of loss, the family drew together.
Celine Cawley and Eamonn Lillis did appear to have it all. The court heard last week that the couple married in 1991 and ran a media company, Toytown Productions, which made advertising commercials. The business was a major success. Evidence was heard of one garda claiming that Cawley was paid €500,000 a year from the company, with Lillis earning €100,000.
The house in Howth was spacious, somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 square feet. It was surrounded by expansive grounds.
An outdoor hot tub was located on the decking at the rear of the house, yards from where Celine Cawley was found. Inside, the rooms were tastefully furnished.
On Thursday, the court proceedings went down an avenue less travelled in murder trials, with a video presentation of the whole of the interior of the house, a diversion that resembled a cast-off tape from a property programme on TV.
Photographs of the interior and exterior of the family home, which were taken by the gardaí in the aftermath of the incident, were shown on three big screens in the courtroom. The Christmas tree was up, decorations adorned the photographs in the hall, stuffed animals and other family objects strewn around various rooms. The single photo which shattered images of domestic contentment was the one taken of the decking, showing a purple red stain of blood where Celine Cawley had fallen.
In the days after the incident, Eamonn Lillis made a number of calls to Detective Sergeant Gary Kelly. He wanted to know when he could return to his home, and how the investigation was going. He called the detective five times over two days.
Meanwhile, the investigation progressed. No forensic evidence was found that could be matched to an intruder. On 18 December, Detective Colm McDonagh was searching the attic of the house when he happened across a suitcase. Inside was a black refuse bag containing a tea towel, a pair of jeans, socks, rubber gloves and boxer shorts. The court heard that all the items were stained to varying degrees with blood. There was also a pair of black outdoor gloves in the bag.
Early on the morning of Saturday 20 December, a number of gardaí called to the home of Celine's brother Chris Cawley, where Eamonn Lillis was staying.
"Eamonn Lillis was in a bedroom alone. I went to the room and woke him up," Detective Sergeant Gary Kelly told the court. "At 6.55am I arrested him for the murder of his wife, Celine Cawley."
Lillis was taken to Clontarf garda station. Throughout that day and into the following morning he was interviewed by a number of gardaí. He was asked about the state of his marriage and whether he had killed his wife.
"Our relationship on a professional and personal level was very, very good. She was a tower of strength for me… I didn't kill her. I swear before God I couldn't do it," he said.
Later, he was asked about a beauty salon in Howth, the Howth Haven, which he attended regularly for a massage. Who looked after him there?
"Jean… I can't remember."
"Jean Treacy?" he was asked.
"Yes," he said. Sergeant Kelly told him that he had interviewed Jean Treacy for a number of hours three days previously and she had admitted having an affair with Lillis for the past 10 weeks. The first time they had had sex was in Lillis's home, Treacy said, according to the garda.
After further questioning Lillis admitted that he had been having an affair. He put it down to a "mid-life crisis" and insisted it had absolutely nothing to do with what had befallen his wife.
"We have a statement from a witness who says that yours was a sexless marriage. Did you know that Jean is due to get married next June," Sergeant Kelly said.
On further questioning, Lillis was asked whether he was jealous (of Treacy's plans to get married). "I don't do jealous," he said.
On cross examination by Lillis's counsel, Kelly agreed that he had told Lillis that their inquiries about him had elicited from various people that he was "a very nice guy, a lovely fella, a gentle caring person".
Later, at the station, the items recovered from the house were presented to Lillis. On that occasion, as on a number of others, he said that on legal advice he was making no comment. He was asked why he had lied about the intruder. The gardaí repeatedly said they didn't believe there was an intruder.
A note retrieved from the upstairs bedroom was presented to him (see panel). He was asked what it was about. He said it was the basis for a short story he had intended to write. He told the gardaí he had been a copywriter.
The court heard about the interviews through notes the various gardaí had contemporaneously taken. On cross examination, Lillis's counsel Brendan Grehan referred to the actual transcript from the taping of the interviews.
Grehan referred Detective Garda Pat Flood to the transcript where he, Flood, had told Lillis: "Nobody said you are a nasty bloke. Everybody said you are a decent, soft bloke. There has to be an explanation. Let that soft bloke come out."
The lawyer pointed out to another witness, Detective Garda Paul Donoghue, that the garda had told Lillis that the gardaí's inquiries had discovered Celine Cawley was "a dominant person, slightly on the bullying side". There was also a suggestion that he (Lillis) was "a second citizen".
Grehan quoted the garda telling Lillis that they had heard that "she would regularly shout at him to come here, do this. He was a lapdog." Donoghue agreed that all this had been said.
The trial before Justice Barry White and a jury of six men and six women continues on Monday.
The handwritten note retrieved from Eamonn Lillis's bedroom by the gardaí was, he said, related to a short story he was going to write. He said it would be a story "based on experience". The note was scripted as follows:
"She will get that wedding dress; she will get married to Keith next June; she will send out the invites in January.
"You will never be with her properly; the only way you can be with her is to live here; think of the positives in the relationship; you will never take her to France; she will never share your bed; you are running out of time."