Family can't believe killer could serve just 12 years
Published 03/11/2010 | 05:00
A FAMILY has expressed "disgust" and "shock" that the man convicted of murdering their daughter and her two children could be released after serving just 12 years.
Postman Brian Hennessy (24) will serve just one life sentence for the calculating and brutal murders of Sharon Whelan (30) and her two daughters Zsara (7) and Nadia (2) on Christmas Day 2008.
Hennessy had previously been handed three life sentences, to be served one after the other, for the Christmas morning murders.
Sharon Whelan was raped and strangled to death before Hennessy set fire to their rented farmhouse in Roscon, Co Kilkenny, killing her daughters.
On Friday the killer succeeded in his uncontested application to the Court of Criminal Appeal to have all three life sentences run concurrently.
A life sentence sees a person spend anything from 12 years to the rest of their natural life behind bars -- depending on the prisoner's behaviour in jail and whether or not they are considered fit for release.
Sharon's father, Christy, told the Irish Independent last night he "can't understand" why the killer won his appeal.
Mr Whelan and his wife, Nancy, are distraught at the ruling in the aftermath of their daughter's and two grandchildren's murders. His son, John Whelan, said the family were "disgusted, shocked and angry" at the thoughts that Hennessy might one day be freed and given a second chance to lead a normal life.
Brian Hennessy, formerly of Windgap, Co Kilkenny, knew Sharon Whelan and her parents -- and his actions horrified their close-knit community.
"As far as we're concerned it should be a life sentence for every life taken," said Mr Whelan. "Not only did he rape and strangle my sister -- he waited and thought clinically and coldly of his next move. He knew her two kids were asleep in their beds but he set fire to the house."
Mr Whelan added: "My mother is so upset and my father is so upset over this. We firmly believe that for a crime as serious as this, that was so cold and thought out, there should be a sentence in this country for the rest of your natural life. He took three lives. We don't know how long he will spend in jail -- the guards said he'll still be looking at 25-plus but we're afraid he could be out after 15 years."
John Whelan said his family had been "badly let down by the State". "We had no contact from the DPP -- there was nobody in touch with me. We were told by the guards that this appeal was just a formality, just a routine and that nothing would change."
Hennessy is currently serving life in Arbour Hill prison.