You treated her dogs better, judge tells widow murderer
Remorseless killer gets life sentence
Published 11/03/2010 | 05:00
A HOUSE painter who bludgeoned a frail widow to death during a robbery showed more concern for her dogs than the woman he murdered, a judge said yesterday.
Oliver Hayes began a life sentence yesterday afternoon after Mr Justice Paul Carney said that the "chilling" murder of Anne Corcoran was marked by gratuitous violence.
Hayes (50), of Clancool Terrace in Bandon, Co Cork, battered Mrs Corcoran to death, then burned and buried her body in a shallow grave in an isolated forest. He stole money from the 60-year-old widow because he was heavily in debt and wanted the cash to go on a skiing holiday in Austria with his long-time girlfriend.
Hayes was convicted in the Central Criminal Court last week of murdering Mrs Corcoran in Bandon, Co Cork, between January 19 and 21 last year. He had pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, five charges of theft and one charge of attempted theft. Sentencing, Mr Justice Carney told Cork Circuit Court that Hayes had shown little remorse for his actions.
"Apart from the gratuitous violence involved, one of the chilling features of this case was the almost total lack of genuine remorse other than for the suffering (caused) to Anne Corcoran's dogs," the judge said.
Mr Justice Carney said that Hayes's video-taped interviews with gardai, and his evidence under cross-examination during the trial, showed little sign of remorse from the accused.
"As recently as last week, during the cross-examination, he said he was as much a victim as the unfortunate Mrs Corcoran who he had bludgeoned to death," the judge added.
He said that in the "distant future", the decision over whether Hayes should be released from prison would be taken by the Parole Board and would be based on an "intensive investigation and study" of the trial transcript and the victim impact statement.
Hayes displayed no emotion yesterday when the life sentence was imposed, pausing briefly to bow to the judge as he was led away. Hayes -- who had been adopted at nine months of age -- grew up near Mrs Corcoran's Bandon home and was known to members of her wider family.
In January 2009, he decided to target his victim as he knew she lived alone and he was desperate for cash.
Hayes ambushed Mrs Corcoran when she returned to her home on the evening of January 19, 2009, abducting her and taking her to his house where he demanded the PIN number to her bank ATM cards.
It also emerged yesterday that the widow had fought desperately for her life -- throwing a vase at Hayes after he had attacked her at her home and then fighting desperately to free herself after being tied up and placed in the boot of her car.
The court also heard that although Hayes had admitted striking the widow repeatedly over the head in a bid to knock her out, he had never properly explained how the 60-year-old received bruising to her eyes and cuts to the inside of her mouth.
Hayes was heavily in debt at the time of the murder -- he had owed €12,000 to a west Cork credit union and had yet to pay a shop for an expensive camera -- and he couldn't afford repairs for his Fiat Scudo van.
The trial heard that the widow was struck repeatedly by Hayes with a stick in an attempt to knock her out.
When that failed, he struck her twice on the head with a piece of heavy kitchen worktop. He then took her bank card and withdrew €3,000 from her account. The next day, when Hayes checked on the widow, whom he had tied up with a dog lead and an electrical cord, she was dead.
The court heard that Hayes had a total of eight previous convictions -- two of which involved the robbery of vulnerable women. One victim, an 84-year-old woman, died four months after he broke into her home and stole €3,000 and jewellery. Hayes had also tried to rob a woman in her late 50s after confronting her at her home with a knife.