IT WAS a bright Monday morning and a fun loving, devoted young mum of two little boys was going about her usual business in north County Dublin.
Rachel O'Reilly – just six days away from her 31st birthday – left her home at Baldarragh, close to the Naul, at approximately 09.02 on October 4, 2004.
She came out the gate of her detached bungalow in her silver Renault Scenic people carrier and turned left, driving past Murphy's Quarry one minute later.
Twelve minutes later, at 09.15, she had made the short trip to Hedgestown National School, in nearby Lusk, where she dropped off her three year old son Luke.
After a short conversation with his teacher in which she handed over an insurance form and the premium, she was off again.
This time it was to Tots United Montessori in nearby Richardstown, where she arrived at 09.30. There, she dropped off little Adam, her 18-month-old baby boy, to Helen Reddy, the manager.
And then she was off again. This time she drove back to her home, Lambay View.
By rights, she would have stayed in the house for an hour or so, before heading to the gym and then picking up the kids at around 1pm.
But this was no ordinary day.
As she left Tots United, she had no idea that she had only 30 minutes left to live.
But her husband knew exactly what was going to happen to the woman the vowed to love, honour and obey seven years earlier.
Joseph Anthony O'Reilly, who was 32 at the time, had gotten up at around 5am that day.
Rachel would have been unaware of that, however.
The night before, they had had a blazing row and he told Rachel he was leaving her.
He had spent the night in the spare room, as he often did. It's unlikely he slept, however.
He spent almost an hour on the phone to his latest lover, advertising executive Nikki Pelley.
Pelley, three years older than O'Reilly, would later tell gardai that in that conversation, O'Reilly called his wife a "cunt".
But there was another reason why he probably didn't much sleep that night.
He was busy planning the perfect murder.
While Rachel was still asleep, O'Reilly drove from the Naul to Jackie Skelley's gym at Citywest, west Dublin, arriving there at 06.20.
It was a few minutes' drive, at that time of the morning, from Viacom outdoor advertising company, where he was depot manager, at Bluebell Industrial Estate.
He and his deputy, former soldier Derek Quearney, sat in the sauna for a while, before showering and heading off to work.
By 07.45 they were both back at Viacom, getting ready for their day's work.
They were planning to do an inspection of buses carrying adverts commissioned by Viacom at Phibsboro and Broadstone Bus Depot on the other side of town.
They had planned to travel in convoy but Derek Quearney, who served in the army for 21 years and retired in 1998 with the rank of sergeant, wasn't ready when his boss wanted to move.
O'Reilly wouldn't, couldn't, wait. He went on by himself while Mr Quearney dealt with some staffing issues.
It was just 8am and O'Reilly was on the road.
But he wasn't going to Phibsboro and an inspection of buses was certainly the last thing on his mind.
It's likely he drove from Bluebell, through Chapelizod and onto the M50.
He got to the airport at around 08.45 and came off the M50 onto the M1, heading north.
Ten minutes later he pulled off the M1 at the exit for Skerries, Donabate and Lusk.
He turned on to the old Belfast Road, driving past an Esso garage on his left just before the Skerries turn. On his right, he drove past a company called Europrise, specialising in wholesale plants.
He continued his journey, driving his four year old navy blue Fiat Marea estate at normal speed.
While he was at the steering while getting ready to murder his wife, Rachel was busy at home.
It was around 08.50 and she had already got Adam and Luke dressed and fed for the day. In a few minutes she'd load them into her Scenic and head off.
By 9am she and the kids were ready.
By 9am Joe was also ready.
He was only a few miles away from the house as Rachel drive off at 09.02.
She is seen driving past Murphy's Quarry at 09.03.
Seven minutes later, at 09.10, O'Reilly also drove past the quarry. But, unlike Rachel, he was heading towards the family home.
O'Reilly was playing a dangerous, high stakes game.
His plan was to get in, kill Rachel, get out and get back to Broadstone all within two hours.
It was a tight timeframe. If Rachel was running even a few minutes late, his plan was doomed.
But she was reliable. She was on time.
He got to the house at around 09.11. He had thirty minutes to prepare himself before his wife came back home.
First, he got the house ready. He closed the curtains in the kitchen, something that was never done.
Then he went round the house trying to make it look like a burglar had been inside.
He opened a few drawers, put some clothes on the kitchen table and laid other items on the floor.
Then he grabbed Rachel's jewellery box, with her wedding and engagement rings inside and other items.
He then took a brown rucksack bearing Rachel's name and a camcorder bag from the living room.
He put the camcorder bag and the jewellery box inside the rucksack and got into his car.
He drove out of the house and turned right, stopping at a ditch around 500 metres away.
There he placed the bag and its contents in the water, but made sure they could be easily found, before heading back to the house.
It was around 09.30 now. Rachel would be home soon and he needed to get ready.
He went back into the house and headed towards the main bedroom, the room where he rarely slept with his wife.
First, he made a small detour into another bedroom, the room where he slept the previous night.
He and Rachel both worked out a lot and that's where the weights they used were stored.
He picked up a dumbbell, took off the weights and went to the bedroom.
By now Rachel was only minutes way.
At 09.41 Rachel again drove past Murphy's Quarry, this time heading to the family home.
She got there probably one minute later.
She pulled her Renault Scenic up to the right side of the house and stopped.
She turned off the engine, took the keys out of the ignition, got out of the car and walked the few feet to the back door of the house.
The house had a front door, but it was never used – instead the family preferred the informality of going in through the patio doors that led to the kitchen at the rear.
Only two people know what happened next: Rachel and Joe. One can't say what happened, the other is unlikely to ever want to.
But gardai believe Rachel walked into the kitchen and Joe called out her name as he stood in the centre of the main bedroom.
Surprised to hear her husband's voice – especially as they had a row the night before – Rachel quickly headed towards the bedroom.
The bedroom was at the end of the hallway, at the right, so she would not have seen O'Reilly standing just inside as she walked towards it.
As soon as she turned right, into the bedroom, O'Reilly pounced.
With the dumbbell in his right hand, O'Reilly hit her square on the forehead.
Stunned, she fell to the floor.
O'Reilly didn't give her a chance.
He was on her immediately, repeatedly hitting her around the back of her head.
Rachel tried to defend herself and some of the blows rained down on her arms as she desperately tried to protect her head, his target. But it was all in vain.
Her loving husband Joe was well over 6 foot and built like an American footballer. He easily swatted away her meek protests, driving the dumbbell down again and again around the right side of her skull.
The dumbbell, although small, was heavy and it did irreparable damage to Rachel's skull.
A deep gash quickly appeared just above her right ear. It was so deep, state pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy would later say she could see part of Rachel's skull.
At this stage, Rachel was lying with her back to the floor, defenceless, her arms were outstretched and the top half of her body was unnaturally twisted from the force of the blows.
O'Reilly was by now crouching or kneeling over his dying wife, still pummelling her head with the dumbbell.
Blood had spurted everywhere. It went over him and his clothes, but it didn't stop him. Again and again he used the dumbbell on her.
The blood spurted so violently that drops of it even reached the ceiling, around nine feet up.
It splattered onto the walls of the bedroom. It even went outside the room and droplets of Rachel's lifeblood landed in the hallway, several feet away.
Joe stopped. He thought he had done enough. There was not a sound from Rachel's prone body. The vicious attack had only lasted around a minute.
Gardai would later find evidence that Rachel had been entirely surprised by the onslaught – her car keys were still in her hand when they moved her body. She didn't even get a chance to put them down.
Slowly he got his feet and started the next phase of the perfect murder.
He walked slowly to the main bathroom of the house, where he was planning to get a shower to wash Rachel's blood off him.
But, as he was a few feet away from the shower, he heard a sound and stopped dead still.
It was Rachel. Her throat was gurgling.
He slowly walked back towards her prone body, knelt down beside her and delivered more hammer blows to her head with the dumbbell. When he was satisfied, he got up and went back into the bathroom.
There, he stripped off his bloodstained pink shirt and black trousers, before getting into the shower.
Once he was finished, he towelled himself off before putting his clothes on.
But they were not the ones he wore when he beat Rachel.
Instead, he had already prepared another pink shirt, almost identical to the one he had been wearing moments earlier, and another pair of black trousers.
He washed Rachel's blood off his black boots and put them on again.
He then gathered up his bloodstained clothing and two towels, one brown, one white, that he had used to dry himself.
He walked into the utility room, beside the kitchen where the washing machine was installed.
The machine was already loaded with Adam and Luke's clothing, but he pushed his own blood-sodden clothes inside before putting in washing powder and closing the door.
He then turned it on, waiting to make sure the wash cycle started.
Then he grabbed the towels and the murder weapon and ran to the patio doors – which he left wide open.
He quickly walked outside and got into his Marea estate, before driving out of the driveway.
It was 09.58. It was only 17 minutes since Rachel had walked into the house.
One minute later, at 09.59, he drove past Murphy's Quarry – unknown to him his plan for a perfect murder was already unravelling.
His car was caught on the CCTV system of the quarry driving away from the house, just as it had been almost an hour earlier driving towards the family home.
But he was blissfully unaware of that and was already implementing the next stage of his plan.
He got back onto the N1 just after 10am and drove straight back to Dublin.
Seven minutes later, he decided to send Rachel a text, pretending to be the perfect husband, but ultimately sealing his own fate as a wife killer.
At 10.07, Rachel's phone buzzed to inform her that the text had arrived, as she lay, slowly dying from inhaling her own blood.
The text said: "You and the boys sleep okay? Wish Jacqui (Rachel's friend) a happy birthday for me. XXX"
The text was sent from O'Reilly's phone as he drove along the N1, close to Blake's Cross.
Some 21 minutes later, at 10.38, it was O'Reilly's phone that went, to signal he had a call coming in.
By this stage, he was around the city centre, close to Park House on the North Circular Road.
The call was from his colleague Derek Quearney, who he was supposed to be with at the bus depot.
By 11am, he had managed to get to Broadstone.
Looking calm and collected he met up with Quearney and they headed off in convoy, with the former soldier driving his Citroen Xsara in front and O'Reilly's navy Fiat Marea following.
They drove down Church Street and turned right on to the Quays, where they headed towards Heuston and then on to Chapelizod, before finally making it back to Bluebell Industrial Estate and Viacom, just before midday.
Once he got into the office, his composure had disappeared – perhaps he had time in the journey to think about what he had just done.
Colleague Michelle Slattery saw him as he went to get a cup of coffee.
She couldn't help noticing his face was red, his eyes puffy.
And when she told him he looked like shite, he simply replied: "Ah, Jesus," before walking off.
Once ensconced in the safety of his office, O'Reilly decided to play the doting husband again by ringing his wife to see how she was – in reality he was carrying out a clumsy attempt to cover his tracks by trying to show he hadn't just been at the house.
He left another voicemail on Rachel's mobile, again asking how she was at around midday.
Then, at 12.50, Rachel got another call. This time it was from Helen Reddy at Adam's crèche, wondering why she hadn't picked up the tot.
"Just giving you a ring to see are you on your way and is everything okay," Helen said.
Unknown to her Rachel was slumped on the floor, but probably still alive. Just.
At 1.18 O'Reilly rang again, sounding more urgent this time – why haven't you picked up the kids?
Six minutes later he rang again, sounding even more anxious. ""This is not funny. It's not like you. I am actually worried. Please ring me," he lied.
O'Reilly then rang Rose Callaly's home. Rose got worried and, after leaving a message for her dying daughter herself, decided to head from her home in Whitehall north central Dublin to the Naul.
She left at around 1.35 and got to the house just at 2pm.
She quickly entered the house through the wide open patio doors and started searching for her precious daughter.
She called out her name, but got no response as she slowly walked down the hallway leading to the bedroom.
She got to the bottom of the hallway and was met with a sight that will haunt her forever.
She told O'Reilly's trial: "I looked in and it was then that I noticed Rachel lying on the floor – that was her bedroom.
"She was lying with her head down, but I could not actually tell if her face was lying sideways or straight down because it was in such a state.
"As soon as I saw her I knew she was dead.
"The minute I saw her I knew she was dead and I knew she was murdered.
"I knelt down beside her I remember rubbing her arms and they were cold and hard and I knew she was dead a while.
"I just kept talking to her," she said.
Mrs Callaly said she panicked and left the room and tried unsuccessfully to ring for an ambulance on her mobile.
She went back up to the kitchen and searched for Rachel's new phone but could not find it – so she went back towards her dead daughter.
She said: "I was in such a panic and went back down and I knelt down beside her again and I spoke to her again.
"I went back up and I noticed the new phone but I didn't know how to use it.
"Eventually some man answered it. I said if you could get help, my daughter's dead.
"It was just a random number."
Moments later, Rose walked out of the house and was greeted by O'Reilly who had just arrived at the home.
He had a smile on his face.
But it quickly vanished when Rose told him she thought his wife, her daughter, was dead.
He ran into the bedroom and touched his wife on the back, before saying to her: "Jesus, Rachel, what did you do?" He tried a bit of CPR.
Gardai and paramedics quickly came on the scene.
When he was told his wife was dead O'Reilly played a stormer. He punched the doorframe in despair before steadying himself on the door.
He must have thought he had got away with it.
He had an alibi that put him 15 miles away at the time of the murder. His mother in law found the body. He left increasingly frantic messages on Rachel's phone and he seemed devastated when told she was dead.
But he was wrong. Two and a half years later, justice would finally catch up with him.