Died between 30th April and 7th May 2013.
Philomena Dunleavy (66), known as Phyllis, from Marino in Dublin, was killed in Edinburgh between 30th April and 7th May 2013.
Ms Dunleavy eldest son, James Dunleavy (40) also known as Seamus, denied murder and attempting to defeat the ends of justice by burying her to try to cover up the crime. A jury at the High Court in Edinburgh convicted him, by majority, of a reduced charge of culpable homicide. They also found him guilty of the attempted cover-up. He came to trial in January 2014, having been held in the State Hospital.
Ms Dunleavy’s dismembered body was discovered in May 2013 in suitcase, buried in a secluded clearing on Corstorphine Hill, in Edinburgh. She was identified after police produced a reconstruction of her face. It could not be determined exactly how she died because injuries to her head, smashed ribs and damage to small bones in her neck – often linked to strangulation – could have been sustained after her death.
Ms Dunleavy, described as small, slightly built and shy – and with a number of health problems – had left her Dublin home in early April to visit James. She arrived in Scotland on 24th April and just days later she was dead – killed in Dunleavy’s flat in Balgreen Road, Edinburgh.
A jury convicted him of beheading and dismembering Ms Dunleavy and burying her in a shallow grave. An eight-day-trial heard harrowing evidence suggesting that Ms Dunleavy may still have been alive, but unconscious, when her killer began to hack off her legs with knife and saw. However, the court heard that what actually happened may never be known.
The jury heard that Dunleavy attacked Ms Dunleavy severing her legs with a blade and a saw. He dismembered Ms Dunleavy’s body, then buried the body parts on Corstorphine Hill, later pretending to neighbours that Ms Dunleavy had been unwell and had returned to the Republic of Ireland. It was reported he then cleaned blood stains from his flat, burned furniture and disposed of Ms Dunleavy’s mobile phone.
It was more than a month before Ms Dunleavy’s remains were unearthed, just a few minutes walk away from her son’s address. A large suitcase was missing from the flat and a spade with a broken shaft was found in the back green.
Advocate depute Alex Prentie QC, prosecuting, told the jury that “loose ends” and unanswered questions would remain.
Ms Dunleavy’s 68-year-old husband, also James, attended the trial as did her son Austin (27). The trial heard that after Ms Dunleavy’s body was found the family refused to help police investigating her death.
Note: This report was drawn from reports in the Daily Record, the BBC and the Irish Independence.