Parents of German stab victim say life was 'shattered'
Parents' relief as two men jailed over knife death of foreign student
Published 25/06/2014 | 02:30
THE parents of a German student who was stabbed to death whilst studying in Ireland have said that the loss of their only child has "shattered" their lives.
Wolfgang Heinrich and his wife Alexandra Thom Heinrich said they were "relieved" that this chapter of their lives was finally closing after Wesley Kelly was jailed for six-and-a-half years for the manslaughter of their only son Thomas.
Another Dublin teenager was also sentenced to nine years with the final two suspended for the murder of Mr Heinrich.
In a victim impact statement read to the court yesterday by the parents, it detailed how their lives had been "shattered" by their son's "sudden violent death" on December 1, 2012.
His heartbroken parents said "nothing can be said or done to bring Thomas back to us", and that they had been robbed of "all possible futures" with their cherished son.
The Heinrich family said that they will "never attend his graduation, his wedding or hold his children" and that they are now selling their family home as it is "too painful" for them to continue residing there.
The 22-year-old was studying in Griffith College as part of an Erasmus programme when he sustained three fatal stab wounds on St Anthony's Road in Rialto, Dublin, 18 months ago. His friend Robert Rinker (25) also sustained injuries in the attack.
Wesley Kelly (20), of St Anthony's Road in Rialto, had pleaded not guilty to murder, but guilty to manslaughter at the Central Criminal Court. This was accepted by the DPP and he was sentenced to eight years with the final year and a half suspended.
Having previously denied both charges, Kelly was found guilty of assault causing harm to Mr Rinker by a majority verdict of 11 to one. The jury failed to reach a verdict as to whether he was guilty of murdering Mr Heinrich.
The 17-year-old defendant had pleaded not guilty to murdering Mr Heinrich and to assault causing harm to Mr Rinker. However, the jury found him guilty of both charges by unanimous decision in May after almost eight hours of deliberations over three days.
The court heard yesterday that Mr Rinker was fortunate not to have lost his life having been stabbed several times. He suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder in the wake of the ordeal, as well as both physical and psychological scarring.
State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy said the cause of death was a stab wound to the abdomen, haemorrhage and shock due to blood loss.
The deceased's heartbroken parents described their late son as a bright and sociable young man.
"He (Thomas) made many friends back at home as well as here. He was very helpful and very much against violence," they said outside court. "We are now at the stage where we have to reinvent our lives and go forward and do something different."
Mr and Mrs Heinrich said that an important part of their life going forward is the scholarship they set up with Griffith College, which they described as a "living memorial" of their son.
The parents of the deceased said that they had nothing but praise for the gardai and the justice system adding that the incident doesn't reflect on Ireland.
Mr Justice Barry White said that sight is often lost of the fact that the victim has parents. In this case, he said that Thomas Heinrich was an only child and that the suffering of his parents was "likely to persist for the rest of their lives".
Mr Justice White said that both men had "blighted" their own lives and they would henceforth be known as killers. He reminded both that this would adversely effect future employment prospects for them.
He said that the 17-year-old – who cannot be named because of his age – was "fuelled with drink" and was the "ringleader and instigator".
He told the court that the Director of Public Prosecutions had urged that these offences were at the upper range of seriousness.
However, he said that a mitigating factor was the ages of the guilty parties and their previous good character.