Ann Butler had been beaten, stabbed, had her throat slit and her ear cut off. A Kilkenny man has been found guilty of the murder of 71-year-old Ann Butler in her home on Maudlin Street in 2020.
The Central Criminal Court trial heard evidence that on 25 March, 2020, three anonymous phone calls were made to 999 and traced back to Trevor Rowe, the 30-year-old defendant, including one in which he stated that he had murdered a woman five days earlier and that her body was on Maudlin Street in Kilkenny.
When gardai arrived at the home of Trevor Rowe, he dropped to his knees, cried uncontrollably, and said: "I killed a woman. I murdered a woman. I slit her throat and stuck a knife in her head."
Rowe, who lived at an address on Abbey Street, Kilkenny, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of 71-year-old Ann Butler at her home at Maudlin Street, Kilkenny on March 20, 2020.
The defence put forward by Rowe was that of intoxication, his lawyers argued that due to the amount of drugs and alcohol he had consumed on the day of the murder, there is no way he would have been capable of forming an intent to kill or cause serious injury to Ann Butler. It took 12 jurors just over an hour to unanimously reject his defence.
The jury instead agreed with the prosecution that the "only rational conclusion" was that Trevor Rowe had intended to cause serious injury or death to Ann Butler when he "deliberately shoved" a large piece of cardboard into her throat.
John O'Kelly SC, reminded the jurors that the piece of cardboard was pushed so far into the throat of the pensioner that the State Pathologist was unaware of its existence until the throat of the victim was dissected.
Following the verdict, Ms Justice Karen O'Connor thanked the jury for the time and effort that they had put into their service. "You were always punctual, turned up every day, and listened carefully throughout," she stated.
The judge explained that she knew it had been a difficult time and offered her condolences to the family of the victim.
The sentencing is due on April 1, where Trevor Rowe will be handed the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment, he was remanded in custody until that date.
On April 1, the Butler family will be given the opportunity to make a statement to the court explaining the impact that the death of Ann Butler has had on their lives.
Evidence Heard At The Trial
At the start of the trial, Padraic McInerney said that he was working in Waterford Garda Station on 25 March, 2020, when he received an anonymous call on the 999 number. "The first thing the caller said to me was "Call me God," he said. The caller then later said: "I wish to inform An Garda Siochana that I killed a woman".
Witness Fiona Dunphy said that she also received a 999 call at 6.30 pm on the same day. "The male came through and said he murdered someone and told me that the location of the body was at the back of Langtons on Maudlin Street in Kilkenny," she recalled.
The witness told the jury that the caller sounded frustrated and even said that if his calls were not taken seriously he would commit another murder.
Detective Garda Martin Power explained to the jury that after gardai had traced the anonymous calls, he went round to Trevor Rowe's apartment on Abbey Street on March 25 and found the defendant standing in front of his couch and rummaging with both hands behind his back.
"I asked him what he was doing with his hands and he pulled out two screwdrivers, one in each hand. I asked him to leave the screwdrivers down and he complied with my request and left them aside," said Detective Garda Power.
Detective Power then asked Trevor Rowe what knowledge he had of the 999 phone calls, it was at this point the accused dropped to his knees and began crying uncontrollably.
Trevor Rowe then told Detective Power: "I killed a woman. I murdered a woman. I slit her throat and stuck a knife in her head on March 20 at Maudlin Street."
Rowe later took gardai to the home of Ms Butler on Maudlin Street, once they arrived he fell to the ground crying again.
Upon opening the door of Ann Butler's home, the detective recalled feeling "a gush of heat" hitting him, along with a smell of what he believed to be decaying flesh. Detective Power's colleague confirmed to him that the body of a female lay dead in the living room.
At 7.38pm that evening, Trevor Rowe was arrested on the suspicion of the murder of Ann Butler and taken to Kilkenny Garda Station.
Detective Sergeant James O'Brien explained to the jury that Ann Butler had lacerations to her neck, an injury to the head, and her left ear appeared to be missing when he entered her home on March 25.
When describing the demeanour of Trevor Rowe in the back of the patrol car after his arrest, Detective Sergent O'Brien said that Rowe had made several statements in the vehicle including "I just wanted her to be found" and that he had "slit her throat and stabbed her in the head last Friday." The court also heard how the defendant was heard saying "What have I done, what have I done."
O'Brien also said that the accused also stated: "I thought it was going to be an easy touch, what have I done."
Chief State Pathologist Linda Mulligan testified that the body of Ann Butler was discovered in a mutilated state after she had been beaten, stabbed, and had her throat slit, while a large piece of cardboard was also found in the back of her mouth.
The court also heard that "a strip" of Ann Butler's ear had been found later in the living room of her home, Dr Mulligan agreed that part of the victim's ear had been cut off.
Dr Alan McGree, a forensic scientist, also explained to the jury that in the living room of Ann Butler's home, authorities also found a Linden Village cider can, a crowbar, and the wooden part of a crucifix. He said that the DNA found on the Linden Village can matched that of Trevor Rowe.
The witness also explained how he had examined blood-stained gloves found on a coffee table in the apartment of Trevor Rowe on Abbey Street. "A female DNA matching that of Ms Butler was obtained from a sample of this blood-staining," he said.
The jury was also shown CCTV footage of Rowe walking in the direction of Ann Butler's house on the night of the murder.
The jurors also heard how in garda interviews Trevor Rowe had accepted that he killed Ann Butler but refused to say why, telling detectives it was to do with "no one, just me, God, and that woman." He had also said that "It wouldn't do her family any good to know. I can't even close my fucking eyes with the nightmare I see."
When gardai questioned Rowe on why he could not tell them what he did to Ann Butler, he replied with, "because it's disgusting."
Trevor Rowe had also told officers that he planned on returning to the home of the victim: "to cut her up and bury her legs one place, and bury her arms somewhere else" but instead he made the anonymous phone calls to 999 so they could locate her body.
It was revealed that a wooden cross was recovered from the floor in one of the bedrooms in Ann Butler's house on Maudlin Street and a "Jesus figure" was found in Rowe's apartment on Abbey Street.
A forensic scientist gave evidence that her findings provided "extremely strong support" that the wooden cross and "Jesus figure" were originally from the same crucifix unit rather than not. This, Mr O'Kelly SC said in his closing speech, was a "clear scientific connection" between Trevor Rowe and the murdered Ann Butler.
Addressing the jury, defence counsel Kathleen Leader SC said the jury was dealing with "the killing of an elderly lady" and in order to convict her client, they must be "absolutely sure" that his intentions were to kill Ann Butler.
Ms Leader made the suggestion to the jury that there was another conclusion open to them on the evidence, which was that Mr Rowe was guilty of manslaughter. She submitted that the evidence in the case supported the conclusion that intoxication prevented him from forming intent.
Trevor Rowe had previously told gardai that he had taken "40 D5's" (Diazepam) and drank all day prior to the incident on Maudlin Street.
Mr O'Kelly then asked the jury to consider what it took to shove the piece of cardboard so far down the throat of Ann Butler. This "was so far away from being accidental" and was instead a "deliberate" act, he said.
"Anyone who inflicted those injuries could have no intent other than to cause death or serious injury. It is the only rational conclusion," he stated.
Mr O'Kelly also added that Trevor Rowe was "cute and calculated enough" to make the anonymous calls on borrowed phones and then make sure he had deleted those calls from the handsets. "This is no man on some angry rant, this is calculation. This man does not want to be traced," he added.
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