Man gets life for killing partner with 'unmerciful' kick in stomach
A FATHER-of-three was jailed for life yesterday for murdering his partner of 21 years, who he kicked in the stomach with enough force to split her liver.
Derek Finlay had previously denied murdering Noeleen Brennan in November 2008, but was yesterday found guilty and handed the mandatory sentence.
Her siblings embraced and broke down in tears as the verdict was read out. They had already suffered the loss of another sister 15 years ago when Catherine Brennan, was shot dead along with Eddie McCabe as they sat in a car in Tallaght.
Noeleen's sister Catherine was just 29 at the time of her murder in 1995. The sisters were best friends and Noeleen developed a drinking problem following the death.
On November 14, 2008, Noeleen had spent the day drinking with Finlay, himself a recovering heroin addict, before a row blew up.
During the ensuing fight Finlay punched her face and grabbed her on the stairs, causing them both to fall down the steps. Finlay said his mind went blank and he lashed out, kicking her "an unmerciful boot" into the stomach. The trained kickboxer compared it with a penalty kick in his subsequent interviews with detectives.
His 38-year-old partner, who was the youngest of 11 children, died later at Tallaght Hospital.
Noeleen's brother Anthony Brennan said her three children, Mark aged 19 and two girls, 14 and 10, had taken the loss of their mother very badly.
"They have lost everything, their mother and their father," a victim impact statement said.
"I'm not sure the court can understand our devastation. It is not the first time our family has lost a sister in tragic circumstances. The past few years have been hell for us and we have to face this for the rest of our lives.
"There will never be one as good as Noeleen."
Finlay of Knockmore Green, Killinarden, Tallaght, bowed his head as Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy handed down the mandatory life sentence.
Speaking on his behalf, his defence team said he wanted the Brennan family to know he is deeply sorry for what he did, and is also deeply affected by her death.
During the trial, the court heard that the couple had a violent relationship and would often punch each other when they rowed.
Finlay later told detectives she would have expected him to hit her during the row that night because it was "just the way we were".
"I just never meant to go that far with her" he said. Finlay had pleaded guilty to manslaughter at the outset of the trial, but the DPP rejected the plea.
Speaking outside the court, Anthony Brennan said he was happy with the verdict. His sister, Helen Brennan, said the family would look after Noeleen's three children, who had been left devastated.