Man sent for trial charged with murder of widow whose body found in Cork forest

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Man Sent For Trial Charged With Murder Of Widow Whose Body Found In Cork Forest Man Sent For Trial Charged With Murder Of Widow Whose Body Found In Cork Forest
The body of 72-year-old Mary O’Keeffe was found in a burning car in a forest in Doneraile, Co Cork earlier this year. Photo: PA Images.
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Olivia Kelleher

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has directed that a 62-year-old man be sent forward for trial to the Central Criminal Court on one count of the murder of a 72-year-old woman whose body was found in a burning car in a forest in Co Cork earlier this year.

The DPP has also consented to sentencing in the case of Michael Leonard of Glenosheen, Kilmallock, Co Limerick in the event of a guilty plea being entered. Mr Leonard is accused of murdering pensioner Mary O’Keeffe, whose body was found in a burning car in Doneraile.

Mr Leonard appeared at Cork District Court by video link from prison this morning. He is charged with murder contrary to common law on February 4th of Ms O’Keeffe at Dromdeer East, Doneraile, Co Cork.

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Medical assistance for Mr Leonard in prison was directed following his first court appearance. This assistance was to include psychological and physical assistance, including a psychiatric assessment.

Mother-of-three

Mother-of-three Ms O'Keeffe lived in Dromahane near Mallow in Co Cork and worked as a cook. The alarm was raised on the afternoon of February 4th when a passer-by spotted a car on fire near the Coillte forest in Doneraile. Ms O’Keeffe was pronounced dead at the scene.

Cork District Court today heard that a book of evidence was still being prepared in relation to the case and Sgt John Kelleher sought an adjournment until next month.

Defence solicitor Brendan Gill said that an adjournment until next month was acceptable to his client.

Judge Colm Roberts remanded Mr Leonard in custody until his next court appearance on the 10th of September next.

Inquest

Earlier this summer, coroner for north Cork Dr Michael Kennedy opened the inquest into the death of the widow who was originally from Lombardstown, Co Cork.

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The inquest at Mallow Courthouse heard evidence from Det Sgt James O’Shea, who told the court that Mallow Fire Service was called to a car fire in the woods at the Dromdeer on February 4th 2021. When firefighters outed the fire, they found a body in the car.

The inquest heard that the body of Ms O'Keeffe had to be identified using DNA because visual identification was not possible due to the burns.

Assistant state pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster carried out a post-mortem at Cork City Morgue. She said that Ms O’Keeffe died from extensive severe third degree burns associated with the inhalation of carbon dioxide due a fire in car.

The inquest was adjourned pending the completion of criminal proceedings which are currently before the courts.

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