Saturday 18 November 2017

'He was a loner and never had that many friends'

Edel Kennedy

LOCALS where he grew up have described him as a loner.

But investigating officers in the UK said James Citro, also known as James Kennedy, is an "intelligent, sophisticated and violent criminal".

Few in his home town of Nenagh, Co Tipperary, knew that Citro was on trial for murder until newspaper reports were published a week ago.

"To say he was strange would be to put it mildly," said one man who attended the same school as Citro.

"He was a very deep sort of fellow, he never had many friends and he stuck to himself."

He married a local girl and worked at a factory, but at 21 he was arrested on suspicion of rape.

"It kind of all happened so quick," said one local of the assault and rape of a 19-year-old girl who was known to Citro.

"The same day there was a car crash and a local man was killed and that sort of overshadowed what he had done."

He attacked his first victim in 1978 after offering her a lift. He took her to a remote lakeside area as she begged to be let out of the car.

Citro opened the door but she started screaming and he punched her and knocked her to the ground.

"I don't know what came over me," he told gardai.

"I told her I wanted a bit."

He throttled her with a cloth stretched between his hands. The teenage victim later told police: "I tried to loosen it with my hands but he kept on tightening it and I could feel my eyes bulging in my head as if they were going to burst."

Citro raped her before throwing her in the lake and hurling rocks at her.

He was later charged and released on bail and just weeks afterwards in November he attacked a 23-year-old waitress who was walking home from work in Limerick in the early hours.

Citro followed her and asked her for a kiss. He then grabbed her after she jumped over railings and "raped her on the spot".

She told the jury at his trial: "I thought 'My God, I'm going to be found dead in the morning in the river'.

"It was like he was sex mad. It was the only thing on his mind.

"All this time he was on about 'Aren't I great, do you enjoy this?'"

He pleaded guilty to both rapes at the Central Criminal Court and was referred to the Central Mental Hospital for a "hormone treatment".

Defence counsel Michael Feehan told the court on April 5, 1979, that his client had received treatment in Dundrum since the incidents -- but the psychologists could not find a psychological explanation for his behaviour. A psychiatrist said he might benefit from "an elaborate course of hormone treatment".

He moved to the UK after his release but his sister and brother still live in Tipperary. Another sister is dead, as are his parents.

In the recent trial Citro gave evidence in a wheelchair and the case was halted three times for him to receive medical treatment -- but he never provided any evidence as to his disability.

One of the investigating officers in the UK, Detective Supt Keith Niven, said they were appealing for anyone who was attacked in the areas where Citro lived to contact them.

"He is an intelligent, sophisticated and violent criminal who went to great lengths to evade detection and capture for over 10 years," the officer added.

Irish Independent

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