Man receives life sentence for murdering his friend

Thomas O’Connor of Burnaby Court in Greystones claimed he was acting in self-defence when he beat John O’Brien with a rock

A man has been jailed for life for murdering his friend in Wicklow seven years ago.

Thomas O’Connor of Burnaby Court in Greystones claimed he was acting in self-defence when he beat John O’Brien with a rock.

A jury found him guilty of murder - after his plea to the lesser charge of manslaughter was not accepted by the DPP. 

In her Victim Impact Statement, John O’Brien’s mother Brigid described her son as a very funny, charming and likeable young man.

He was 22-years-old when he died on June 4th 2010, and she said nothing has been the same since.

The court heard previously that Thomas O’Connor and John O’Brien were friends who socialised together regularly.

On that day, they had been drinking in Greystones.

Witnesses described Mr. O’Brien as confrontational and aggressive and said he was trying to start fights with everyone he came into contact with.

One young man said the accused had to pin him to the ground after he punched his friend for no reason.

Just before midnight, the court heard Thomas and John got into a fight at the Farrankelly roundabout and that Mr. O’Connor killed his friend by beating him across the head with a rock.

The jury heard he then left the scene and went to the home of an ex-girlfriend where he washed his bloodied hands with bleach.

John’s father James described how Mr. O’Connor called to his house the next day and swore he left him at the roundabout while knowing all along he was dead and that he had killed him.

“What he did that night has destroyed our lives,” he said.

Thomas O’Connor, a father-of-two, who was also 22-years-old at the time, admitted killing his friend but claimed he was acting in self-defence.

He was convicted of murder earlier this month.

Mr. O’Brien was due to marry his fiancée Alice three months after his death. In her Victim Impact Statement, she described the heartache of having to ask her florist to change her wedding bouquet to a funeral wreath.

A letter of apology was then read out on Mr. O’Connor’s behalf before he was handed the mandatory life sentence for murder.