Thursday 8 December 2016

Years since death have taken toll, but Sasha has bloomed

Published 25/03/2011 | 05:00

Sasha Keating outside Dungarvan Court yesterday
Sasha Keating outside Dungarvan Court yesterday
Sasha's late mother Meg Walsh
Sasha's stepfather John O'Brien leaving court

JOHN O'Brien still wears his wedding ring. But the dark sunglasses and smart grey suit he wore as he strode into Dungarvan Courthouse in west Waterford yesterday couldn't hide the fact that he had dramatically aged in the five years since his wife, Meg Walsh (35), was murdered.

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She vanished on October 1, 2006. Her naked body was found floating in the River Suir, just off the Waterford city quays, 15 days later.

It was a killing that shocked Waterford, where Meg lived and worked, and north Cork, where she was born and where her large extended family still lives.

Mr O'Brien -- a Waterford-based bus driver -- was arrested and charged with her murder. But he was acquitted by the unanimous decision of a Central Criminal Court jury in 2008.

Yesterday, he ignored the media and did not take the stand in the day-long Circuit Civil Court case to give evidence in support of his defence of Sasha Keating's right to claim a share in the house he once shared with her mother.

Mr O'Brien sat with two female companions. At the back of the court sat Ms Keating (21), Meg's daughter. She was 17 when her mother disappeared.

Today, she is a confident woman of 21 -- and bears a striking resemblance to her beautiful mother.

With blonde hair, a petite figure and a ready smile, those who knew Meg would have been excused for looking twice, such is the startling resemblance.

By Sasha's side was her uncle, James Walsh, who has fought a long battle for justice for his slain sister.

It was James who made the first impassioned appeal for information about Meg's whereabouts just days after her disappearance.

It was also James who paid a heartbreaking tribute to his sister at her Requiem Mass in Killavullen. He described her death as akin to a crucifixion. The pain of their loss is still etched deep in the eyes of James and Sasha.

Now James is battling, as the court was told, to try and ensure that Sasha gets a share of her late mother's estate. The court was also told that the civil action is not about "retribution" -- but only about doing right by Meg for Sasha.

Irish Independent

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