Sunday 4 December 2016

‘I still feel guilty for what his other victims went through’

Bailieboro victim wants to see O'Higgins Report action

Published 10/05/2016 | 02:30

Taxi driver Mary Lynch. Photo: David Conachy
Taxi driver Mary Lynch. Photo: David Conachy

A woman who was assaulted by Jerry McGrath before he was bailed and went on to murder said she still lives with the guilt of what happened to his other victims.

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A report by Mr Justice Kevin O'Higgins has highlighted serious failures in criminal investigations in the Cavan-Monaghan region between 2007 and 2008.

It identified failings in eight Garda investigations and problems with Garda management. The O'Higgins report also stated that victims of crime were let down by GSOC.

Mary Lynch was left bloodied and bruised after an attack by Jerry McGrath in April 2007.

McGrath had been released from the Garda Station at Bailieboro, Co Cavan, after attacking Ms Lynch, before going on to attempt the kidnap of a child from her home and then carrying out the brutal murder of Sylvia Roche Kelly while he was on bail.

Ms Lynch said she has not read the O'Higgins report, but is keen to see it published.

Sylvia Roche Kelly
Sylvia Roche Kelly

However, she said she is not confident it will amount to anything.

"You need somebody to be held accountable, but nobody has been held accountable.

"I don't know where all of this is going and I don't even know when the report is to be published," Ms Lynch said.

"I would still be very afraid if anything happened to me in the Cavan-Monaghan area because the people who were helping me in my case got promotions.

"Saying something is terrific, but there is nothing being done about what happened. There is nothing being done about the wrongdoings."

It is not yet clear when the report will be published.

The Kells-based taxi driver said she was lucky to escape with her life after a frenzied attack by McGrath in which he repeatedly struck her and pulled clumps of hair from her head.

By the time she made a statement to gardaí 11 hours later, McGrath had already been released from custody.

Six months later, McGrath attempted to kidnap a child from her home in Tipperary.

He was given bail at Limerick District Court, but gardaí did not bring the case of the assault on the taxi driver to the attention of the judge.

Weeks later, in Virginia District Court, a judge was not told that McGrath was charged with the false imprisonment of the young girl. Sylvia Roche Kelly was killed by McGrath four days later on December 8, 2007.

"I feel guilty," said Mary, before adding: "I am alive but I feel guilty.

"I rang that Garda Station every week. They told me my file was gone. It wasn't. They still had it. This mistake cost a woman's life. People talk about others telling lies and whatever, but because of people not doing their jobs, not being trained properly and not being supervised properly - there is a woman dead."

The report concludes that there was not sufficient Garda oversight in the Bailieboro area. However, it found no evidence of Garda corruption.

Sylvia Roche Kelly's husband Lorcan said there was nothing suprising about the report's findings.

"There is not much I can do to make things better for my kids or my family because what has happened has happened," he said.

He told RTÉ yesterday that he was not satisfied with the report and has not been approached by the gardaí or the Department of Justice about the circumstances of his wife's killing.

"The thing that disappoints me about the Commission is it looked to what happened, it didn't look to what happened afterwards," he said.

Irish Independent

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