Sick Nevin hoped to help other prisoners
A lecturer who befriended Catherine Nevin as she prepared for her release from prison has spoken about her intention to help prisoners with addiction upon completing her sentence.
However, it appears unlikely she will get an opportunity to do so after it was confirmed she has just months to live after being diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Derek Byrne, a drug and alcohol policy lecturer in Maynooth University, met Nevin in 2014 when she enrolled in an adult education course in addiction studies.
He said her interest was sparked by her observations of drug use among women prisoners in the Dochas Centre at Mountjoy Prison.
Writing in The Irish Times, he said it was also clear she often found prison life difficult. "One night she arrived at class shaken, having witnessed a violent incident in the jail. She broke down in tears as she described the severity of the beating one woman had given another," he said.
Nevin was jailed in 2000 after she was found guilty of murdering her husband Tom. She became known as the 'Black Widow'. Nevin was granted regular periods of release from prison so she could attend classes. Byrne said she engaged well with her work and he was confident she would have had enormous potential to help prisoners after her release.
Nevin chose to leave the second year of the course early but the pair stayed in contact and became friends.
"She would often call me at weekends, for support with an assignment, and later might also call, for example, to ask how I was if she knew I had been ill. She also phoned to wish me a happy birthday when I turned 50 and arrived at class that week with a card and a three-dimensional drawing she had made for me."
He revealed that Nevin was due for release when she was diagnosed with a serious illness. "She has just months to live. Even a person convicted of an abhorrent crime can learn and make some positive contributions to the world."