Murder suspect claims he can’t remember the night Jennifer Dornan was killed by ‘prison poisoning’

A Belfast man has denied killing Jennifer Dornan but claimed he cannot remember the night in question due to a stroke he suffered after being ‘poisoned’ by prison staff in Dublin.

aymond O’Neill was called to testify before the Belfast Crown Court, where he is on trial for the murder of the mother of three in the bedroom of her Hazel View home in August 2015.

The 43-year-old denied Mrs Dornan (30) she was “definitely not” his type, and denied sexually assaulting and stabbing her and then setting her bedroom on fire.

He also claimed he could not recall traveling to Donegal in the days following her death and could not recall being arrested by the gardai in Bundoran.

This amnesia, he claimed, was due to a stroke he suffered after his bottle of 7-Up was poisoned with drugs in October 2016.

The suspect, who lived on Amcomri Street in Belfast in August 2015, was called to the witness stand by his lawyer Martin O’Rourke QC.

After swearing on the Bible to tell the truth, the first question O’Neill was asked was, “Did you kill Jennifer Dornan?”

O’Neill answered “no” and was then shown CCTV footage of the murder suspect walking past Hazel View in Lagmore in the early hours of Sunday, August 1, 2015.

The footage — which the Crown says shows O’Neill walking to Mrs Dornan’s house with his face obscured by his coat — was played to him twice.

When asked by Mr. O’Rourke, “Are you the one we can see?” O’Neill replied “certainly not, no.”

The defense attorney then asked his client what he remembered from the weekend of August 1 and 2, 2015, to which he replied, “I don’t remember anything.”

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Raymond Martin Gabriel O’Neill

O’Neill claimed he had no recollection of being a passenger in a car that Mrs Dornan picked up from her home on Saturday night, and no memory of their presence at a house on Lagmore Avenue in the early hours of Sunday.

Asked if he remembered going to Donegal in the days after Mrs Dornan’s death, the accused said: “I don’t remember traveling to Donegal, let alone being in Donegal. “

And when questioned about his arrest in Bundoran, O’Neill said: “I don’t remember being arrested, but I’m clearly under arrest because I’m here now.”

Under cross-examination by Crown attorney David McDowell QC, O’Neill was asked about his amnesia.

He claimed he suffered a stroke caused by a drug overdose in October 2016 after prison staff in Dublin poisoned him by putting methadone in his juice bottle.

O’Neill said he lost all his memory as a result of the stroke, adding: “Let’s say my mother came to Portlaoise hospital and had to tell me I had two sons, but first she had to tell me that she was my mother.”

He was asked a series of questions about the weekend of Mrs Dornan’s death, including how he could be sure he didn’t kill Mrs Dornan as he had no memory after being poisoned in prison in 2016.

O’Neill responded by telling the Crown attorney, “Take it from me, I didn’t kill anyone. I’d like to think that everyone who killed someone can remember.

“It’s not my fault. I had a stroke and that’s what happened to my memory. I apologize to the court for that.”

O’Neill claimed he had no memory of his childhood, no memory of his family and no memory of what happened in August 2015 – but said “certain memories” were starting to come back.

O’Neill was able to tell the jury that over the weekend when questioned “that was the first time I’d had a drink in years… maybe ten to 15 years.”

And when asked how he could have sustained a wound to his hand seen by his friend in the early hours of Sunday morning, O’Neill said, “I can’t remember how I hurt myself.”

Mr. McDowell asked if he was attending a house on Lagmore Avenue where Mrs. Dornan was returning after a night out with her boyfriend.

O’Neill replied, “Like I said, I have no memory of that night.”

He was asked “did you smile at Jennifer Dornan?” and replied, “I can only answer that by saying no.” And when asked “was she your type?” O’Neill replied, “Absolutely not.”

After saying he was “not interested” and “in no way attracted” to Mrs Dornan, O’Neill was asked how he knew this – as he had never met her that night, coupled with his amnesia. .

He responded by saying “because I have no interest in any other girl except my ex-partner.”

The conversation between the prosecution and the defendant continued when O’Neill was again shown CCTV footage from Hazel View.

McDowell accused O’Neill of being the man in the footage and thus the murderer and asked if he had sexually assaulted Ms Dornan after following her home.

This was denied by O’Neill, who said, “I was not the person who committed this murder. I had nothing to do with her murder. I was not there.”

Mr McDowell accused O’Neill of sexually assaulting Mrs Dornan, stabbing her three times with a knife from her own kitchen and then setting her bedroom on fire.

He also accused O’Neill of throwing the knife in a nearby yard, destroying his coat because it had Mrs Dornan’s blood on it, and telling his cousin later that morning that he had killed someone.

The cross-examination ended when Mr. McDowell said, “Mr. O’Neill, you killed Jennifer Dornan, didn’t you?” to which he replied, “I didn’t kill Jennifer Dornan. Absolutely not.”

At hearing.

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