Teen accused of killing OAP recounts how he found body
A teenager has claimed he was “in denial” and “didn’t want to believe” that an elderly man he is accused of killing was dead.
Appearing in Dungannon Crown Court yesterday, the teenager denied playing any part in the murder of 78-year-old Francis O’Neill.
Giving evidence for the first time, the accused claimed he found Mr O’Neill’s body after entering his home in Omagh on April 10 last year.
He is accused of stabbing the retired psychiatric nurse in the neck and strangling him because he needed £80 to pay his rent.
The youth, who was 16 at the time, cannot be identified because of his age.
On the day of Mr O’Neill’s death, the accused said he went to the pensioner’s home and entered through a rear window.
The youth described how the pensioner was on his seat, apparently sleeping. His wallet was on the floor.
“I went to wake him to give him the wallet,” he told the court. “I said ‘here’s your wallet’.”
There was no reply, and the youth said he checked Mr O’Neill for signs of life. “I went to check his arm for a pulse — it was cold,” he said.
“I went to check his pulse. There was none. I panicked.
“I didn’t want to believe it. I stumbled back, my head spun round, my hands got sweaty.” Asked by defence QC John McCrudden why he left and didn’t call for help, he said: “I don’t know I was in denial. I thought if I go out and come back again it would be all right.”
He confirmed he took Mr O’Neill’s wallet, admitting he intended to use £80 to pay rent to his flatmate.
Later, the youth met up with friends and drank alcohol. He described breaking down during a fight with his flatmate, and told him about finding Mr O’Neill dead.
Asked by Mr McCrudden if he played any part in his death, the youth said: “No, not one bit.”
Prosecuting QC Liam McCollum focused on inconsistencies in the youth’s account of his movements.
The teenager said he was in Mr O’Neill’s house for 10 or 15 minutes, but could not account for apparent gaps between entering and leaving.
When asked about his exact movements, he said: “It’s over a year ago, I can’t remember.”
The lawyer said: “The truth of the matter is that you were at (Mr O’Neill’s) home for a lot longer than you admit to the jury. The reason is that you killed (Mr O’Neill).
The youth said it was not the case.
The trial continues.