Sunday 24 September 2017

'I don't believe anyone can be that evil'

Maria and Paul Dempsey, parents of murdered Alicia Brough, comfort each other at their family home near Rockchapel, Co Cork. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Maria and Paul Dempsey, parents of murdered Alicia Brough, comfort each other at their family home near Rockchapel, Co Cork. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

The young woman stabbed to death in the multiple murder in Limerick had turned down a job in England so she could be near her family.

Alicia Brough (20) had recently finished a course in psychology and sociology in the UK but missed her family so much she decided to move back home to Rockchapel, Co Cork.

She was murdered along with her best friend Sarah Hines and Sarah's two children.

Alicia's family had moved from Cheadle in Staffordshire six years ago to pursue their dream of living a better life in their rural smallholding.

Yesterday her devastated parents, Paul and Maria Dempsey were picking up the pieces of their shattered lives.

"It's so hard to pick a favourite memory of Licia, there are just so many," Mrs Dempsey told the Irish Independent.

"She was thoughtful and considerate to the detriment of herself. She was the type who would give away her last penny.

"She was just the best sister to her brothers and sister and never failed them."

The grief-stricken mother described formally identifying her first-born child's body as like "going in and out of consciousness".

"In a strange way it wasn't the worst moment in my life. It wasn't until we had a chance to see her that we could begin to accept it.

"I felt numb but I did not drop to the floor screaming or anything like that because it was closure.

"She looked peaceful and she looked the same and I think her spirit is still here," she said.

Mrs Dempsey said friends used to comment how she and Alicia were like sisters. "I was only 21 when I had her."

One of her parents' most cherished memories now is that of a smiling Alicia, brimming with life and fun, in her Charleston-style black dress and devil's horns at her recent Halloween-themed 21st birthday party.

Her stepdad Paul said it was typical of Alicia that she'd want to bring the party forward, she was always impatient.

"We're so glad that she did now because we had a brilliant night. It was just us and her closest friends," he said.

Sarah's father and Paul Dempsey had studied together for a diploma in organic horticulture that was run in Dromcollogher, Co Limerick. The prime suspect for the murder, was also in the class.

Harrowing

Amazingly, the Dempseys say they bear no malice towards the man suspected of their daughter's killing, whom they had met on several occasions. "I just don't believe that anyone can be that evil," Mrs Dempsey said.

"We don't understand it. I think it's just very sad all round and his mother has also lost a grandchild as well," her husband added.

"He always appeared very quiet and reserved and was quite laid-back which is why we're so shocked now."

While they bear no ill-will to the suspect, they said it was too early to talk about forgiveness.

They said gathering their children together to tell them the news of Alicia's death was one of the most harrowing things they had ever had to do.

"But we had to be strong. We believe in the truth, and that way we can grieve together," Mr Dempsey explained.

Irish Independent

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