Monday 19 August 2019

Gardaí close in on 'mastermind' of Irene White cold-case murder

Irene White killing: Sister's 'dying wish' to see justice for the man behind brutal slaying

Irene White
Irene White

Natasha Reid, Paul Williams and Elaine Keogh

Gardaí have turned their focus to the "mastermind" who ordered Irene White's vicious murder after a second man was jailed for life for the crime.

Niall Power (47), of Giles Quay, Riverstown, Co Louth, was the "so-called middleman" behind the murder of the mother of three 14 years ago and was a "close family friend".

Another man, Anthony Lambe (35), stabbed Ms White 34 times in the kitchen of her home. He was jailed for life in January 2018.

Gardaí expect the prime suspect who ordered the killing is now likely to face murder charges.

Ms White's sister Anne Delcassian, who is terminally ill with cancer and has just weeks to live, said it is her "dying wish" that the mastermind is brought to justice. Ms Delcassian was unable to attend the Central Criminal Court in Dublin yesterday as Power was sentenced to life in prison for her sister's murder.

Speaking outside court yesterday, Ms Delcassian's solicitor Kevin Winters said two people have now been convicted by the court, "the killer" and the "so-called middleman". But he said the "mastermind" has yet to face justice in the courts.

Niall Power. Photo: Paddy Cummins/PCPhoto.ie
Niall Power. Photo: Paddy Cummins/PCPhoto.ie
Anthony Lambe. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson

"But we've yet to find and have prosecuted the mastermind to the killing of Irene White. So, the mastermind remains elusive," he said.

"We say, on behalf of my client, that the Garda and the DPP actually have the evidence, they have circumstantial evidence."

Retired Detective Garda Inspector Patrick Marry, who was the senior investigating officer into the murder, said: "The focus of attention now will be on the other person and I have every confidence in the detective team in Dundalk that they will get to the bottom of and (to) the final part of this investigation."

Ms White (43), who was separated from her husband, lived at Ice House, Demesne Road, with her children aged 17, six and five. Her mother, Maureen McBride (79), lived in a mobile home to the rear of the house. She found her daughter's body lying in a pool of blood at 12.30pm on April 6, 2005.

Irene's daughter Jennifer McBride. Photo: Collins Courts
Irene's daughter Jennifer McBride. Photo: Collins Courts

Ms White had been stabbed 34 times and her throat had been cut.

In her victim impact statement, which was read out to the court, Ms Delcassian said Power had been "hiding like a coward" for the last 15 years.

"I'm currently diagnosed with terminal cancer," she said. "It's my dying wish that you and all responsible are brought to justice."

She explained that her mother had died on Ms White's birthday, six months after finding her daughter murdered.

Irene’s ex-husband Alan White. Photo: Collins Courts
Irene’s ex-husband Alan White. Photo: Collins Courts

Ms White's daughter, Jennifer McBride, then entered the witness box to deliver her own harrowing victim impact statement.

She said that Power was not any stranger to her family but was at one time "a close family friend", who had been welcomed into their home.

She described going to school as normal that morning, not knowing this would be her "last goodbye to my mam".

Their home had been filled with peace, tranquillity, love and laughter in the months before the murder, but that was to be short-lived.

Ms McBride told how she was called out of class and told her mother had passed away.

The White’s home in Demesne Road. Photo: Ray Cullen
The White’s home in Demesne Road. Photo: Ray Cullen

She felt shock, numbness. "I was completely heartbroken."

She remembered her mother as a spiritual person who is often described by her many friends as the "life and soul of the party".

She also remembered the many good times with her mother and felt guilt and sorrow that her younger siblings were robbed of those moments and their mother's unconditional love.

Following the murder, Ms McBride went to live with her grandmother and was separated from her two siblings, who went to live with their father.

Then tragedy struck again when her grandmother died six months later "from a broken heart" having never recovered from finding Ms White's body. The young teenager was again left grieving and homeless.

Ms White's former husband Alan was in court for the sentencing hearing. Speaking briefly to reporters outside, he said he had hoped for years that her killer would come forward.

Mr Justice Michael White described the murder as "an unspeakable crime and a great tragedy".

He noted that the family had been waiting for justice for 14 years and were "still waiting".

Power then stood and nodded as Justice White imposed on him the mandatory sentence of life in prison and he was led out of the court.

Speaking after the sentencing, retired Det Insp Marry said he was "delighted" at the conviction of Power.

"I am very happy for the family, particularly for Jennifer, Irene's daughter, who we were in close contact with.

"The public should take some solace from the fact that even though some crimes are years old, that gardaí do keep in contact with the families and do still review them and pursue any leads."

The crucial break came for detectives when Lambe's former girlfriend rang gardaí from Australia to report that he had admitted murdering Ms White.

"In this particular case some extremely good detective work and a lot of hard work brought us to Australia where we acquired some evidence that proved vital in the solving of the crime," he added.

Irish Independent

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