A retired member of the Defence Forces has been jailed for eight years at the Central Criminal Court after he killed a prostitute whose body was found in a bog nine days after she went missing.
In July 2015, Jimmy Devaney (67 ) of Millbrook Avenue, Monksland, Athlone was acquitted of murdering Marie Greene in Co Westmeath in 2011, but found guilty of her manslaughter. The father-of-three had pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to murdering Marie Greene in Westmeath on February 13, 2011. A jury of six women and five men returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter after four hours and 23 minutes of deliberations.
The court heard that Marie Greene, who was working as a prostitute, was last seen alive on the evening on February 13, 2011 and her body was discovered nine days later in Anagorta Bog outside Athlone. On Monday morning Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan told the court that this case merited a custodial sentence of 11 years, but she imposed an eight year custodial sentence and backdated this to July 30, 2015, the day the jury returned their verdict.
The judge said the seriousness of the crime on a scale was “upper end of mid range” and the appropriate sentence was 11 years, but in all circumstances she was imposing eight years. The judge first extended her sympathy to Ms Greene’s family saying Marie had “died tragically” and as a result of the crime the Greene family had been “deprived of a daughter and sister”.
The court heard Devaney had offered a plea of manslaughter but this had not been accepted by the DPP and it proceeded as a murder trial. The judge told the court everything from “a suspended sentence to imprisonment for life” was what was “available” for her to hand down to Devaney. She said the facts of the case were “very distressing” and they were heard in evidence over 10 days, which was not required to be rehearsed by her again today.
Ms Justice Heneghan said the court had the benefit of hearing a Victim Impact Statement which was read by Ms Greene’s nephew on November 2, and which revealed “a heartbroken family living a nightmare that no family should have to endure”.
“The court was also furnished with references to the accused which I have read,” she said. “The accused man has been described as gentle, honest, reliable, trustworthy, disciplined, and a dependable soldier.
“He was a man involved in charity work. A number of testimonials refer to the shock of Mr Devaney being linked to this terrible crime and how it was out of character,” she said.
The judge then said to the court that the aggravating factors included the use of a knife, the number of wounds inflicted, the attempts to cover up the evidence, the attempts to have CCTV destroyed, and the lack of cooperation by Devaney with the Garda initially.
“The mitigating factors was the early plea to manslaughter, the apology which I accept as being genuine, the co-operation with gardaí, the information provided to gardaí on the location of the body, the unlikelihood of Devaney re-offending and his previous good character,” she said. “I have considered all the matters put before me in this court. I have considered the aggravating and mitigating factors.
“It merits a custodial sentence of 11 years and I will impose an eight year custodial sentence and backdate this to July 30, 2015 when the jury gave its verdict,” she said.
Comments made outside court by Ms Greene’s family
Speaking outside court on Monday following the sentence hearing, the older sister of Marie Greene, Theresa Greene, said she was not happy with the sentence handed down. Ms Greene said Devaney “should have got more” and she hoped he “died in prison”.
“We will never see our sister again, it is hard on us but harder on my poor mother,” she said. Devaney’s letter of apology is something the Greene family refuse to accept. “We don’t accept the apology from him or his family,” she said.
“Marie was my favourite sister and I’m heartbroken; we had our ups and downs but she was very good to me and the kids. She was very good to my mother and looked after her, as good as any husband to her,” she said. “Marie was a human being at the end of the day. My mother is not well since then and worse she is getting. It is very upsetting [how she was portrayed during the trial] and I didn’t even know my own sister,” said Theresa Greene.
She also said there are many nights she has cried herself to sleep in bed but would not tell her mother in case she worried her. Winnie Greene, the mother of the deceased, also spoke outside court saying she would have liked Devaney “to get the full 11 years”.
“Twenty-one days after Marie died, my son died so I lost two of them together and that is very hard. I hope Devaney gets it very hard in prison,” she said.
Evidence from the trial
State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy said the deceased had suffered six stab wounds to the trunk. There were multiple incise wounds to the head and neck. Prof Cassidy confirmed under cross-examination by Devaney’s lawyer Giollaiosa Ó Lideadha SC, that some of the stab wounds could have been part of a continuous attack that continued after death.
It was the State’s case that Devaney murdered Marie Greene because she had been blackmailing him for money or she would tell his wife. He told gardaí in an interview that he stabbed her several times because he lost control, but said that she had brought the knife to the scene. Devaney said that she had blackmailed him for up to 15 years and that he had given her up to €40,000, and €20,000 in the previous six months.
He told gardaí that he met up with her and drove out to Anagorta Bog near Ballykeeran to talk to her but she was threatening to get her brothers after him. Devaney told gardaí he lost control during a struggle and “just kept stabbing” her. The court heard evidence that two other unnamed men told gardaí they had been blackmailed by Ms Greene. The court heard she had 50 previous convictions.