Wednesday 29 March 2017

Homeless man who left woman to drown is jailed for six years

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A HOMELESS man was yesterday jailed for six years for pushing a mother of five into a river and leaving her to drown.

Greg Holt (37) pleaded guilty before Cork Circuit Criminal Court to the unlawful killing of Marion O'Leary (54), at Albert Quay, in Cork, on October 17 to October 18, 2007.

Ms O'Leary's children clapped and cheered in the public gallery when the sentence was handed down.

The family said later they would never forget that Holt failed to alert the emergency services to their mother's desperate plight. Tony O'Leary said the family was still haunted by the precise circumstances of their mother's death.

"Why on the night it happened did he (Holt) not notify the emergency services," he asked? Mr O'Leary said the family was devastated that they never got a chance to tell her how much she was loved.

Poignantly, Ms O'Leary's youngest son, who has Down Syndrome, still cries for his mother each night and has been unable to visit her grave.

The court heard that Ms O'Leary had been involved in an on-off relationship with Holt.

Both Holt and Ms O'Leary were residents of different Simon homeless shelters in Cork and both had been drinking before the tragedy occurred.

Judge Patrick Moran was told there were no eyewitnesses to what had happened -- and gardai had to rely entirely on the defendant's account.

The judge acknowledged that the prosecution was only possible because of Holt's statement and co-operation with gardai.

The alarm was raised several hours after the tragedy when Holt told an individual at the Simon shelter that "Marion is gone to the river and she is drowned".

Gardai and Naval Service divers were immediately alerted and Ms O'Leary's body was recovered the following day.

A post-mortem examination by Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster confirmed that Ms O'Leary had drowned -- but that she also had bruising and abrasions to her back consistent with having been pushed.

Holt said he had been drinking with Ms O'Leary at Albert Quay and when a row erupted he pushed her in the back and she fell into the river.

However, the judge expressed concern at a Probation and Welfare Service report which found that Holt "did not express remorse or show any empathy with Ms O'Leary".

'Cavalier'

The report also found that his attitude towards the matter was "cavalier".

Holt -- a native of Drogheda, Co Louth -- had been living in Cork for eight years, most of the time in sheltered accommodation. He suffers from a chronic alcohol problem, has a low IQ and has received repeated psychiatric assistance. He has three previous convictions.

The court heard that Holt had little or no insight into the consequences of his drinking -- and consumed "extraordinary quantities of alcohol" both before and after this incident.

The judge described the offence as very serious and with deeply tragic consequences for the O'Leary family.

Irish Independent

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