Tuesday 26 September 2017

'My daughter's killer should get life as she took the whole of mine away'

Bridget O’Brien, whose daughter, Bernadette Cash was killed by her cousin in a brutal assault.
A picture of the late Bernadette Cash, daughter of Brigid O'Brien. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 172/2017
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

The mother of a young woman left to die following a brutal assault has spoken of her anguish after the woman who killed her was jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Donna O'Brien (25), of Cherryfield Lawn, Hartstown, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the manslaughter of her cousin, 20-year-old Bernadette Cash, on October 30, 2013.

Bernadette's mother, Bridget O'Brien, said she has struggled with the pain of her daughter's violent death and does not believe justice has been done.

"It has affected me very badly. I haven't been the same person since," she said.

"Donna O'Brien really took a lot out of me. She took my whole life away from me."

Mother-of-one Bernadette was found dead in the living room of her mother's home in Warrenstown Walk, Blanchardstown.

A picture of the late Bernadette Cash on her wedding day, she is the daughter of Brigid O'Brien. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 172/2017
A picture of the late Bernadette Cash on her wedding day, she is the daughter of Brigid O'Brien. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 172/2017

Judge Melanie Greally described how Ms Cash "died alone and unaided" after she was punched and kicked in the head by O'Brien.

O'Brien sobbed as she was sentenced by the judge, but her aunt did not believe the tears were genuine.

Pity

"I saw Donna crying to the judge for pity, but the judge didn't look down at me, or think about Bernadette's life," she said.

"She never showed one bit of emotion to me, or never said once 'I'm sorry', or apologised to the family."

Asked if she believed the killer was remorseful, she said: "No, I know her too well. She has no remorse. She can put on an act.

"She'll come over and she'll cry and she'll wipe her eyes, she did the same thing in court."

Bridget was angered by the four-and-a-half year sentence and said she wants to appeal it.

She has been contacting gardai and wants to get a lawyer to push for such a review of the sentence.

"It's not a fair sentence at all and I don't think anybody thinks it," she said

"She got no justice, my daughter didn't get any justice. I'd like to see her getting life, because she's after taking my daughter's life. She took my daughter's life at a very young age.

"I'm waiting for the gardai to get back on to me," she added about discussing an appeal, the decision on which would ultimately be for the DPP.

Bridget feels she has been treated badly by the justice system because she is a member of the Travelling community.

"Just because we're Travellers they think that's it, that'll do, work away," she said.

"I've been treated very differently. When it happened first, I was waking up and I was drinking bottles of vodka and taking tablets, going back to sleep and doing the same thing, just to cope."

The length of time it took O'Brien to come clean and admit what happened has also angered Bridget.

"I'm three years saying that she did it. I've been three years telling them who to arrest, that she did it," she said.

"And there's what I got after the three years. If she handed herself in at that time, she'd be nearly finished and out."

Bridget also hit out at any suggestion that her daughter was violent, an accusation that had arisen during the case.

"Bernadette was never violent. I raised Bernadette on my own, without a father, and she was never, ever violent.

"She was spoilt right enough, but not a violent child."

Bridget described her daughter as "a beautiful person, a very lovely, bubbly girl".

"She loved her country and western music. She really liked music.

"She liked sport, she was jolly, always a happy-going girl. She was polite with people, and she wasn't cheeky.

"She just had her own way of getting on."

One thing Bernadette particularly liked was looking after children.

"She was very good at helping. She was good with her sister-in-law, helping mind the kids," she added.

This was a skill that served her well when she became the mother to a son four years ago.

"She was a great mother with her child, she was very close with her baby," she said.

"I haven't seen that child since Bernadette died. That's how much Donna's after taking away from me.

Jealous

"She's after taking my whole family away from me, and then she's going to have another baby in jail. I don't think justice is right in this world."

Asked what she would say to her daughter's killer, Bridget said she wanted to know what had really happened.

"I'd ask 'why did you do it?'. She's always been jealous of Bernadette," she said.

Another tragic element of the case was that there were three others in the house at the time Ms Cash was attacked, but no one called for help.

"It's not like years ago, there's mobile phones now," Bridget said. "There's no problem picking up a phone and dialling 999. You don't have to say who you are. It's just to save a person's life."

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