Monday 21 August 2017

'A monster who took an angel' - Family speak as man jailed for life for murdering mother

Vesel Jahiri, left, and Anna Finnegan, right. Photo: Collins
Vesel Jahiri, left, and Anna Finnegan, right. Photo: Collins

Andrew Phelan

MURDERER Vesel Jahiri is a “monster” who “took an angel” from her family when he stabbed Anna Finnegan to death, her heartbroken sister has said.

Lisa Finnegan told the Central Criminal Court Anna was a “loving, kind, selfless soul” and the family would never get over her life being taken so brutally.

She was delivering a victim impact statement as Jahiri (36) was jailed for life for murdering Anna (25), who was his ex-partner and the mother of his two children.

He had the mandatory life sentence handed down by Mr Justice Paul Coffey, along with a concurrent four-year jail term for stabbing Anna’s brother Karl Finnegan in the head and chest in the same attack.

Karl Finnegan told the court Anna was a “devoted mother” and had been robbed of a chance to see her children grow up.

Jahiri was not present to hear their victim impact statements, after asking to be taken out of court earlier because he did not want to listen to the prosecution’s summary of the evidence.

He shouted accusations that prosecutor Patrick Marrinan SC was telling lies and had to be warned twice by Judge Coffey during the sentence hearing.

When he returned, flanked by four prison guards, three of whom were dressed in full riot gear, Jahiri stared straight ahead and showed no emotion as sentence was passed.

Jahiri kicked in Anna's front door and stabbed her to death in her own home a month after she had sought refuge at a women’s shelter because of his abuse.

Hewas found guilty last month of her murder and the attack on her brother by the unanimous verdict of a jury.

The attacks happened at Allendale Glen, Clonsilla, Dublin 15 on September 21, 2012.

Jahiri, originally from Kosovo but of no fixed abode, had pleaded not guilty to both charges and had legally represented himself after repeatedly dismissing lawyers who had been assigned to his case.

He had to be removed from the court several times in the course of the trial for disturbing proceedings by shouting. On one occasion he had to be wrestled to the ground by prison officers after he punched Mr Marrinan in the face.

The court had been told Jahiri made Anna’s life “hell”; she had written that had beaten her before and “almost killed her”. They had been together since she was 16 years old.

This was Jahiri’s second trial for the murder after a jury failed to reach a verdict in his first trial in 2014.

“Since my sister Anna was murdered in such a savage and terrifying manner, my mind has never recovered,” Lisa Finnegan said in her statement today. “I can and will never be the same person again. The events of that night, the terror, the panic, the mayhem, the devastation, the shock, will stay with me until the day I die.

Anna told me the night before she was murdered some of the physical and mental torture which had been rained down on her poor little body and her already exhausted mind.”

“As Anna and I never got to finish our chat, I am now left with despicable and torturous imaginings of what her shot adult life had entailed,” she continued.

“On that fatal night when my brother Karl was also attacked and assaulted by this monster, I, moments after the attack was told he would be down for myself and my children. As we had now seen this monster for what he was, instant terror entered our lives until he was eventually found. The pure terror again while he was on bail, and after he absconded I barely left my home or left my children’s side and sleep was a thing of the past.”

Lisa said she was a “prisoner in her own home”, always ready to defend herself and her family.

“I couldn’t see Anna’s babies for fear that we were being watched, which we knew he did on Anna so many times,” she went on.

“Our lives have mostly been a living hell for the last four and a half years. Our family as a unit has been severely fractured because of his actions that night.

The only possible way we could ever begin to move on and try to be happy again is knowing we are safe for the longest possible time.

“We hope and pray the court will consider and understand the fear we endured which extended to my children.”

Lisa said the “shocking and violent behaviour” made her sadly understand even more how scared Anna was of him.

“He took an angel that night. A wonderful, loving, kind, selfless soul. An amazing mother and the best sister and friend. It tortured me to see my brothers so distraught by her loss and absence,” Lisa said. “We will never get over the loss of Anna. I will never get over my sister’s life being taken so brutally, but I will live my life as best I can in her memory, and please God, without fear.”

Karl Finnegan said Anna had been his “rock” and it was difficult to imagine that he would never speak to her again.

She had been the peacemaker in the family, and always had a kind word, he said. It was heartbreaking to think that her children had been robbed of “their Mammy,” he said. Anna’s scream was the last sound he ever heard her make.

Outside the court, Lisa said the family was “very relieved” at the conclusion of the case.

The trials had been “gruelling”, she said.

“If there are any girls out there, guys that are struggling with this issue, there is always somebody who can help.”

Earlier, Patrick Marrinan SC had led Detective Garda Brendan Connaughton through a summary of the case.

The accused interrupted, shouting “He had the knife himself, why all the lying? You keep on lying now”.

Jahiri had hired a new legal team and Judge Coffey warned his barrister he would be removed if he did not stop.

Minutes later, a prison guard said Jahiri was asking to be removed from the court as he did not feel well.

“I just don’t want to listen to him,” Jahiri said.

In his absence, Mr Marrinan said Jahiri had made outrageous accusations during the trial about Keith Finnegan, claiming he was a member of the IRA and a serious criminal. Gardai confirmed there was not a scintilla of truth in the allegations, and they caused “considerable hardship” to a decent family.

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