Sunday 23 April 2017

'The pain of losing our Michaela will never go away'

Michaela's parents Deirdre
and Brendan Davis leaving
court yesterday
Michaela's parents Deirdre and Brendan Davis leaving court yesterday
Michaela Davis
Jonathan Byrne was convicted of the murder of Michaela Davis

Edel O'Connell

THE family of murdered schoolgirl Michaela Davis said the life sentence handed to her killer meant justice had been served.

Last night, they spoke of "the pain and suffering she had endured during the last moments of her life".

The 12-year-old's body was found on the banks of the Royal Canal near her home in Clonsilla, west Dublin, on the afternoon of August 28, 2010.

Yesterday, Jonathan Byrne (19) was sentenced to life in prison for the murder and rape of the schoolgirl.

Byrne, of Lohunda Downs in Clonsilla, admitted raping Michaela twice before strangling her at the playing fields on Porterstown Road.

He then dragged her body away and left her on the canal bank where it was found the following afternoon.

Michaela's parents Brendan and Deirdre said the core of their family life had come to an end after the murder.

They said the pain of losing "their Michaela" would never go away, nor would "the love she left behind".

Michaela had just started a new school and was described as being very happy and excited. She was still wearing her new school uniform when she left home at 9.30pm on the night she died to meet friends.

At 11.30pm she asked again to go out for 15 minutes. When she had not returned by 2am, her father alerted the gardai.

Her parents told gardai that she had been in a relationship with Byrne, who was jealous and texted her extensively.

Her mother suspected he might be giving her alcohol.

Her parents had initially thought Byrne was just 14, but told her to end the relationship when they learned his real age.

Yesterday, dressed in a dark suit and tie, Byrne remained emotionless throughout the sentencing while Michaela's relatives sobbed openly.

The court heard how gardai searched for Michaela on the night she was missing. They woke Byrne at 3.45am but he lied to them and told them he left her at 11pm.

A walker found Michaela's body the following afternoon near the canal next to St Mochta's playing field.

She was pronounced dead half an hour later and her father identified her body.

A blood-stained shirt and Michaela's mobile phone were found near her body and these led gardai back to Byrne.

His DNA was found on Michaela as well on a T-shirt found near her body. Her blood was found on Byrne's jeans.

When they searched his bedroom the next day, a bag of wet clothes was found hidden in the base of his bed.

Caring

The man was arrested and admitted he had raped Michaela twice and strangled her. He said he had dragged her body around the fields, not knowing what to do with it, before dumping it beside the canal bank.

Detective Inspector Colin Fox read a victim impact statement prepared by Michaela's parents.

They described their daughter as being a caring human being, who was full of love. "She's now not here for those who need her," they said.

The Davis family said lives would have to be rebuilt -- and this included the lives of the Byrne family.

"The pain of losing our Michaela will never go away, nor will the love that she left behind," the statement said.

Mr Justice Paul Carney handed Byrne the mandatory life sentence for murder. He also imposed two 15-year sentences for the rape charges and declared him a sex offender.

Irish Independent

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