Saturday 20 December 2014

Taxi driver who escaped killer Jerry McGrath says she feels guilty over Sylvia Roche-Kelly's murder

Published 20/02/2014 | 12:16

Sylvia Roche Kelly was found dead in a Limerick hotel in December 2007 after being brutally beaten and strangled
Jerry McGrath is led into court, where he faced a charge of murdering mother-of-two Sylvia Roche-Kelly

A woman taxi driver who was brutally attacked by the killer Jerry McGrath before she escaped from him says she blamed herself that he later killed Sylvia Roche-Kelly.

Mary Lynch was assaulted by McGrath in April 2007 after she picked him up and he directed her to take him down a cul de sac.

McGrath was convicted of murdering Ms Kelly in the Clarion Hotel in Limerick in December 2007.

Mrs Lynch told Pat Kenny on Newstalk today that she feels her assault case was not properly dealt with, and she feels “guilty” over the murder of Ms Kelly.

Recalling the assault, the taxi driver said: “He had drink taken but he wasn’t falling down drunk or anything like that.”

“He got out of the car and he came round to my window which I opened down so that he could pay me in through the window. But instead he opened the door of the car and he just went bezerk; he went mental.”

“He started kicking me. He pulled lumps of hair out of my head. He bit me. I was black and blue, I had black eyes. My neck was all bruised; all down my sides was all bruised black and blue...I was screaming,” she told Pat Kenny today.

“By the time he came around to the door, his fly was open and he was trying to get my head to his body....He wanted to beat me up.”

Luckily Mrs Lynch calmed her attacker and she drove herself to safety, and he was arrested.

“At this stage I was in a bad way - I was very scared. I thought I was going to be raped, murdered or both. He was trying to get me out of the car. He was trying to get my seatbelt off me.”

“But I kept my hand on my seatbelt so that he couldn’t open it... he had the keys of my car at this stage.”

“I had deodorant in the glove compartment of my car and I got it and I sprayed it into his eyes, and it seemed for ages before it actually reacted into his eyes.”

“Somebody up there was taking care of me because I calmed down; and when I calmed down, he calmed down.”

“Then he started saying ‘sorry’. I said ‘thank you for saying ‘sorry’ to me, why don’t you get back into the car? Give me my keys and we will go in and get coffee and I will get you some help.”

“All I needed to do was get out of where I was because nobody knew where I was.”

“He kept apologising but I could feel at this stage that he was getting aggravated.”

Gardai arrested McGrath in Virginia, Co Cavan and she received medical attention.

“I had a bite on my shoulder which was broken... It looked very disgusting... My neck was all bruised where he had his hands around my throat.”

“The guards came into the hospital and they took one evidence bag full of hair and my husband took a bag of hair out of the car later on.”

“I was very shaken and very scared, and to this day I would be very nervous... The only people I pick up now are people that are recommended to me.”

After the attack, Mrs Lynch heard that McGrath from Dundrum, Co Tipperary, tried to take a little girl out of her parents’ house while they were asleep in another room.

She was alarmed that McGrath had been released on bail and she was later angry that she was not allowed to give her victim impact statement in court, she said. 

“I told the guards that I wanted to be in the court. I knew my case was coming up on Monday January 7, which was after the murder. I had got myself all prepared to go into the court.”

“On the Saturday before the court, I got a call from the guard who said ‘my case was not going ahead, there was no need for me to be in the court’.”

Mrs Lynch said she felt that her gut instincts that McGrath was dangerous were proved right, but she feels guilty over Ms Kelly’s murder.

“When I heard about the murder, I realised I was right, that could have been my fate.”

“I live with the fact that because nothing was done in my case, I feel bad that this woman is dead. Even though I know in my heart of hearts...I know it has nothing to do with me but I feel guilty about it because it started with my case. And because my case wasn’t handled properly, this woman is dead.”

“That’s the bottom line of it. There’s a woman dead because of it, because of the incompetence of these people.”

“I hope it never happens to anyone else again.”

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