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Thursday 2 October 2014

Man (37) sentenced to seven years for arson on Olivia Dunlea's home - following murder conviction

Published 18/06/2014 | 15:50

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Olivia Dunlea O'Brien from Passage West, Co Cork
Olivia Dunlea O'Brien from Passage West, Co Cork

A 37-year-old man, who was jailed for life last month for murdering a woman in Cork, has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment for arson.

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Darren Murphy of Dan Desmond Villas, Passage West, Co Cork had pleaded not guilty to murdering Olivia Dunlea (36) at Pembroke Crescent, Passage West, Co Cork on February 17 2013 but had pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Murphy, who admitted setting fire to Ms Dunlea's home because, he claimed, he “didn't want the kids to find her,” had pleaded guilty to a charge of arson.

Last month the jury in the Central Criminal Court took four-and-a-half hours to find him guilty of murder by a majority of 10-1 verdict.

Today Mr Justice Paul Carney sentenced Murphy to seven years imprisonment for the arson charge to run concurrently with his life sentence, which was backdated to February 19, 2013 for time spent in custody.

The judge noted that because the sentence was adjunct to the life term he was already given “in a way the sentence here is rather irrelevant.”

Mr Justice Carney took account of the plea of guilty and his lack of previous convictions.

He said the fact it was arson where people were dwelling was a highly aggravating feature of the case.

The judge also took account of the monetary loss to the family of €130,000 of the house’s value.

The court heard the house was uninsured at the time of the fire and was sold last year for €50,000.

Last month the seven-day trial heard that for about three months, the mother of three and Murphy had been “an item” together.

On the Saturday night before her death, they were having a good time in the nearby Rochestown Inn but when they arrived home they had “a massive row”.

According to Murphy's statements to gardaí, Olivia threw keys at the accused and told him to get out of her house.

As she was undressing she allegedly told him a former lover was calling by.

Murphy told gardaí that he 'just snapped' and, having stabbed her six times in the neck, he set fire to the house.

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