Thursday 29 September 2016

‘Life should mean life. He can still speak to his family, I can never talk to Ann again’ – Mother’s fury as daughter’s killer gets one-day release

David Kearns

Published 04/03/2016 | 15:50

Photo: Getty
Photo: Getty

A heartbroken mother has condemned a decision to grant the man convicted of murdering her young daughter temporary release to see his father – who is neither sick nor dying.

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Ann Walsh (Snr) said she received a call yesterday afternoon informing her that Raymond Donovan, who was handed a life-sentence for strangling to death her daughter Ann Walsh (Jnr) in 2005, has been granted a one day release to meet his father in a half-way house in Milltown, South Dublin.

“I’m disgusted in the way that Donovan is being let out, disgusted. My whole life, my own family, was turned upside down [because of him],” the grief-stricken mother told RTÉ’s Liveline.

“[That call] broke my heart… he can talk to his parents, his sisters but I can never talk to my daughter.

“Life should mean life. It should.”

Donovan was given a mandatory life sentence in 2006 by Justice Paul Carney for the murder of Ann Walsh, then aged just 23.

Garda Supt Joseph McKeown, who led the investigation into Ms Walsh's murder, said told the court at the time that the young woman "was brutally killed in a vicious and cowardly attack".

Raymond Donovan and Anne Walsh had had a three-year relationship which ended one year before she was found strangled in the grounds of St Senans’ Church in Kilrush on the evening of 24 August, 2005.

Describing how she received a call from a parole officer on Thursday telling her that her daughter’s killer would be “getting out for the day” to visit his father, Ms Walsh said was left floored when she was told it was “because he couldn’t travel up to the prison.”

“I asked was his father ill or dying… he said no, and that’s when everything came flooding back.

“Her half naked body behind a church… I can’t…

“You can’t move on, it’s too hard. A beautiful girl like that taken in the prime of her life, I can’t move on. They say it gets easier but it never does.

“He didn’t show one bit of remorse when he was up in court… he just sat there sticking his fingers up and laughing.”

Ms Walsh told the Radio One show that Donovan was “getting the easy way out” and said that he had already been granted a one-day release in 2015, something the Walsh family was not told about.

“I reckon they preparing to let him out, step by step. This the second time he has been allowed out, and we weren’t told that time – it was only by chance I found out about the parole board two years ago.

“We were told nothing. No one has said anything to me. I think it is a disgrace because life should mean life.”

Speaking earlier, Mary Walsh, the younger sister of the murdered 23-year-old, said the family were still in shock over the news.

“It’s shocking to learn that he has a right to do this and we’ve no say in it.

“We’re the victims and there’s nothing we can do to stop this,” she added.

Speaking to Independent.ie, a spokesperson for the Irish Prison services said they could not comment on an individual case but added that, based on the recommendation of the parole board, it was common for a prisoner heading towards the end of their sentence to be “slowly reintroduced into society” by being granted temporary release.

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