Tuesday 17 January 2017

'It brings us back to day one and we relive the horror' - Family of woman murdered with her two young children on Christmas morning plead for killer's parole to be rejected

Rory Tevlin

Published 11/11/2016 | 02:30

Inset: Victims mum Sharon Whelan and her two daughters, Zsara (seven) and Nadia. Main Pic: Brian Hennessy
Inset: Victims mum Sharon Whelan and her two daughters, Zsara (seven) and Nadia. Main Pic: Brian Hennessy

The family of a woman murdered along with her two young children on Christmas morning are to plead with the parole board to reject any application for early release by their killer.

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The Whelan family warned it is "totally wrong" for the onus to be on the loved ones of murder victims to campaign against killers being released early on parole.

Brian Hennessy is now eligible for parole, despite having served less than eight years of a life sentence for the murders of Sharon Whelan (30) and her daughters, Zara (7) and Nadia (2), on December 24/25 2008.

Hennessy got a life sentence in November 2009 after being convicted of strangling Sharon Whelan in her south Kilkenny home near Windgap.

The postman later told gardaí he set fire to her house in a bid to hide what he had done and the fact he had sex with the victim. The two girls were asleep in their bedroom when he started the fire and died from carbon-monoxide poisoning.

Despite his claims of remorse, Hennessy appealed the Central Criminal Court sentence and is now serving a concurrent life sentence for all three killings.

Sharon's brother John and his family will make a detailed submission to the parole board asking for any early-release submission by Hennessy to be rejected.

Read more: ‘I need to make sure he serves every second possible’ - Killer of mother and two daughters applies for parole after just eight years

The submission will revolve around their insistence that Hennessy has not spent long enough behind bars, the gravity of his actions that Christmas morning and the fact that three people, including two children, were killed.

Mr Whelan, who is involved in the victim's rights group AdVic, said reform of the parole system was urgently required.

He said: "The system is cruel. He is now only serving one life sentence and we are still waiting to find out which one he is serving.

"People must remember that one-third of our entire family was wiped out that night.

"It is important that people also remember he is serving one life sentence for three murders."

Mr Whelan said his family had struggled to escape the horror of what Hennessy did that Christmas.

"Last month a prison liaison officer contacted us to tell us that Hennessy is eligible for parole from November," he said.

"As a family we have to make a presentation or submission to the parole board. The onus is on the victims' family to outline why he should not be released. It is disgraceful."

The Whelan family's submission will be presented to the parole board for the hearing which is expected to take place early next year. Hennessy's legal team will have full access to the document in advance.

"This man took three lives in the blink of an eye and now he is eligible for parole. As a family it brings us back to day one and we relive the horror," Mr Whelan said.

"The State is allowing this to happen not only to our family but to all the families of murder victims."

Irish Independent

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