Chess murder: Italian lodger Saverio Bellante admits the 'cannibal killing' of his landlord Tom O'Gorman
The Dublin courtroom was full of lawyers, gardai and the public, but a hush fell over the busy proceedings in Blanchardstown as the day's first defendant entered quietly and stood before Judge David McHugh.
Saverio Bellante (34), who had been lodging at an address in Beechpark Avenue in the city, was charged in the early hours of yesterday with the murder of his landlord Tom O'Gorman (39), who was stabbed and beaten.
It is understood Bellante had been playing chess with Mr O'Gorman when a row broke out.
Reports have suggested that one of Mr O'Gorman's organs was removed and eaten by his killer.
Mr O'Gorman, who was involved with a number of Catholic groups and campaigns including the Iona Institute, was found dead at his west Dublin home at around 2am on Sunday. Bellante was arrested at the scene.
Originally from Palermo in Sicily, the Italian national appeared in court shortly after 10.30am dressed in a black sweater, black trousers, maroon polo shirt and grey trainers, with his dark hair and beard neatly trimmed.
He stood calmly, his hands in his trouser pockets, and listened intently as Detective Garda Patrick Traynor took the stand and described how the defendant had been cautioned and charged at Blanchardstown garda station at 12.05am yesterday by Sergeant Morgan O'Connor and that he had replied to the caution: "I am guilty." Bellante spoke briefly during the short hearing when the subject of his legal representation was raised.
Judge McHugh enquired if the defendant had applied for legal aid, and a female garda standing beside Bellante replied that "he's happy to represent himself".
When the judge sought clarification on the matter, Bellante explained: "She questioned me if I was happy to represent myself.
"The answer is yes, I want to represent myself."
Judge McHugh remanded him in custody to appear in Cloverhill District Court on Friday, January 17, and also directed Bellante be sent for medical assessment, with the court services to decide the nature of the assessment.
Then the defendant was led away from the court.
The hearing to charge the 34-year-old with the murder of Mr O'Gorman had lasted no more than five minutes, and unfolded with no drama or emotion, in stark contrast to the dramatic circumstances surrounding the attack at around 1.50am on Sunday.
Gardai responded to a 999 call and found the victim in the house, a large detached property in a middle-class area, which was Mr O'Gorman's childhood family home and where he had continued to live since the death of his mother Ann in 2012, letting out one of the rooms.
Bellante, who worked for a pharmaceutical company in Dublin, had been living in the house for several months.
Mr O'Gorman had served as a minister for the Eucharist at Our Lady Mother of the Church on Beechpark Lawn, just around the corner from his house. He had worked as a researcher for the Iona Institute, a Dublin-based Catholic advocacy group.
His father Tom is also deceased, and he is survived by his brother Paul, who lives in Donegal, and his sister Catherine, who lives in London.