A man has been sentenced to life in prison for the brutal murder of a Kilkenny pensioner who suffered an “agonizing and painful death” and “unnatural terror” in her own home, her distraught daughter told the Central Criminal Court today.
Death had a face; It shouldn’t,” Elayne Butler said of Trevor Rowe, her mother’s killer, who didn’t move and bowed his head throughout the hearing.
Single mother Anne Butler, 70, was murdered on Maudlin Street in Kilkenny on March 20, 2020 after being stabbed, beaten and mutilated by Rowe, a 30-year-old drug addict.
Today at a hearing in Abbey Street, Kilkenny, Trevor Rowe was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Mrs Judge Karen O’Connor, an offense which had caused Mrs Butler’s family “unimaginable grief”.
When she was discovered days after the murder, Ms Butler’s throat was slit, while a large piece of cardboard was found in her mouth and “a strip” of her ear in the living room.
Three anonymous 999 calls were traced back to Rowe from Gardaí in Kilkenny, including one where he said he had murdered a woman five days earlier and the location of the body was on Maudlin Street.
When Gardaí called Rowe’s house, he fell to his knees, crying uncontrollably and saying: “I killed a woman. I murdered a woman. I cut her throat and stuck a knife in her head.”
Rowe defended himself by saying that he had been so intoxicated by the amount of drink and drugs he had consumed that day that it prevented him from developing an intention to kill Ms. Butler or seriously injure her. However, last month a jury found him guilty of murder after deliberating for just an hour and 19 minutes.
Today Ms Butler’s daughter Elayne read a tearful victim impact statement in which she described her mother as a “brave, charming, dignified, intelligent woman” who treated everyone with “kindness and love”.
Elayne Butler said it’s hard to imagine her “quick witted and insightful” mother as a victim as “she was always a fighter.”
She said the last time she met her mum at home they couldn’t get into close contact due to Covid restrictions and she asked Anne from the outside if she was okay.
“The air we breathe is free, Elayne. Where would we be without her?” Anne said to her daughter in her last words.
Elayne said that her mother considered home her favorite place, but that “I [Elayne] never thought her sanctuary would become a tomb”.
She described her mother as a woman of faith who was not afraid of death, but instead faced an “agonizing and agonizing death” with “unnatural terror.” “Death had a face, it shouldn’t,” she said of Rowe, who didn’t move throughout the hearing and kept her head down.
Ms Butler said the cause of her mother’s death was only discovered after an autopsy revealed the “brutality” of the murder.
She added that her mother’s “privacy was taken as was her life.”
Ms Butler said her mum did everything for her, she could still see her sing and it didn’t seem possible things could ever get any better. “I miss you and you should still be safe in your home. You are simply the best. I love you,” she said.
In her victim statement, read by Garda Lisa Mullins, Anne’s younger sister Paula McPherson Jones said she was always “welcomed warmly and well” by Anne and Elayne when she returned home from the UK.
She said Anne was devoted to her daughter, Elayne, and that she was “kind, thoughtful and very generous.”
Ms McPherson-Jones said her world “collapsed” when she heard the news of Anne’s death and that the death of her “beautiful and brave sister” was “too hard to comprehend”. She said it had been “two long years” before the full facts surrounding the murder were discovered and that they were “the stuff of nightmares”. Addressing Rowe, she wrote, “If you have a drop of human kindness, what were your last words? Why did you do it?”
Detective Sergeant Brian Sheeran said at today’s hearing that Rowe had 31 prior convictions, including drug offenses, assault, property damage, trespassing, knife possession, burglary, violent crime and larceny.
Det Sgt Sheeran said Rowe was known to Gardaí in Kilkenny as a man “suffering from drug and alcohol addiction”.
Kathleen Leader SC, for Rowe, said her client wanted to express his “deep regret” to Anne Butler’s family and that he accepted both the verdict and the life sentence.
Ms Leader said Rowe was “deeply ashamed” for shaming himself and his own family.
She said Rowe had a very difficult upbringing and suffered from domestic violence.
The attorney said her client was taken into care when he was three years old, was placed in foster care and institutions until he was 16, and struggled with alcohol and drug addiction.
Ms Justice O’Connor handed Rowe the mandatory life sentence and sympathized with Ms Butler’s family, who she said acted with “strength and dignity throughout the trial and through unimaginable grief”.
She thanked the family for their testimonies, “which gave a glimpse of a very independent woman who enjoyed travel and who was generous and very popular.” She said the murder had an “enormously painful and profound impact” on the family.
https://www.independent.ie/news/trevor-rowe-jailed-for-life-for-brutal-murder-of-kilkenny-pensioner-who-suffered-torturous-and-painful-death-in-her-own-home-41511581.html Trevor Rowe to life in prison for the brutal murder of a Kilkenny pensioner who died an “agonizing and painful death” in her own home