Man 'killed love rival while on bail'

A SUFFOLK man was stabbed through the heart by a love rival who was on bail for another murder, a court heard.

Helen Skene

A SUFFOLK man was stabbed through the heart by a love rival who was on bail for another murder, a court heard.

Bill O'Connor, 20, died after being attacked near his home in Bury St Edmunds last April. He suffered eight stab wounds to the head, heart, eye and neck.

Tony Holland, a traveller, is accused of killing him in broad daylight behind a shopping parade in Home Farm Lane.

Ipswich Crown Court heard yesterday Mr O'Connor had met Holland for a pre-arranged cocaine deal, but was attacked for “showing a fancy” to Holland's fiancée.

Following his arrest, it emerged that Holland, 23, of Desborough, Northamptonshire, was on bail for the murder of fellow traveller Danny Hathaway, of Corby, Northamptonshire. The father-of-two vanished after a meeting with Holland in February.

Most Read

The body of the 44-year-old was never found but the court heard Holland murdered him as part of a plot to rob him of thousands of pounds. Holland denies murdering both men.

Karim Khalil, prosecuting, said Holland had been keen to get in touch with Mr O'Connor, even offering his mother, Josephine O'Connor, money to reveal her son's whereabouts.

He eventually got his mobile number from another family member and it appeared the two arranged to meet in Home Farm Lane on April 27, the trial heard.

Mr Khalil told the court: “Tony Holland's fiancée was Lisa Smith. She was someone William O'Connor had shown a fancy towards and it appears in his misguided sense of clearing his past he decided to clear out one of her potential other suitors.”

Mr O'Connor had just returned from a camping trip with a 16-year-old friend when the meeting with Holland took place.

The friend said he had heard Mr O'Connor giving directions to someone on his mobile phone at around midday and soon afterwards CCTV picked up Holland's van driving into Bury St Edmunds.

The 16-year-old said Mr O'Connor seemed “apprehensive and agitated” before the meeting and told him to “get a weapon and wait round the corner just in case”.

The court heard that another witness saw the men meet near the parade of shops and shake hands before Holland got into the driver's side of the van and Mr O'Connor got into the passenger side. The van was then driven behind the shops.

Mr Khalil said “shouting and screaming” was then heard and the 16-year-old saw a man standing over his friend stabbing him. “He tried to stop him by throwing bricks and the attacker made off,” he said.

The jury was shown photographs of the trail of blood at the scene and the bloody tyre print left as the van left the scene.

The van was next spotted at 12.20pm on CCTV in Norwich and records showed Holland's phone was used to call his fiancée from that area at around that time.

Mr Khalil said the emergency services were called to help Mr O'Connor and a passing accident and emergency consultant carried out open heart surgery at the scene. He was taken to West Suffolk Hospital but died soon afterwards.

Holland was arrested at a caravan site at Desborough a few days later. Mr Khalil said his mobile phone had been dumped but was later found near the site. Fibres from Mr O'Connor's jeans matched those on Holland's passenger seat.

Holland also denies killing Mr Hathaway, who lived with his partner, Diane Fury, and their two children in a double-decker bus on a travellers' site in Corby.

He was last seen alive on February 7 last year. His blood was found in Holland's other white transit van and on Holland's boots and on a spade. Telephone records revealed the men had spoke to each other on the day of his disappearance.

Mr Hathaway's body was never found but the prosecution say overwhelming evidence concludes that Holland murdered him.

Mr Khalil said: “To be at the scene of a killing with your van is an unfortunate coincidence but a few months later to be at the scene of a second killing with your second van is not just a coincidence.

“In the words of a well-known playwright it does begin to look like carelessness”.

The court heard that Mr Hathaway had been preparing for a skiing holiday in Austria with his family and had been tying up loose ends before going including meeting with Holland with a view to buying a plot of land for £26,000 cash.

The court heard that Holland needed money for a caravan he wished to buy for £9,000 and he knew Mr Hathaway, a van sales and repair man, had money.

Holland was on bail for Mr Hathaway's murder when Mr O'Connor was killed.

The trial continues.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter