Thursday 13 December 2018

Life in jail for man who stabbed partner and set fire to her home

Murdered: Olivia Dunlea, from Passage West, Co Cork. Photo: Provision
Murdered: Olivia Dunlea, from Passage West, Co Cork. Photo: Provision

Olivia Kelleher

A man who stabbed his girlfriend and set fire to her home before then returning to the scene when the fire brigade arrived has been jailed for life for her murder.

The family of Olivia Dunlea (36), of Passage West, Co Cork, said their lives had become a recurring nightmare after their daughter was killed at her home by Darren Murphy on February 17, 2013.

Loved ones of the playschool teacher had to go through three separate trials in relation to the matter, with a previous conviction being overturned. They also experienced the agony of a hung jury. A jury at the Central Criminal Court, sitting in Cork, yesterday found Murphy guilty.

Murphy (41), of Dan Desmond Drive, Passage West, Co Cork, had pleaded not guilty to murder but conceded that he had committed manslaughter. The DPP declined to accept his plea.

The court heard that Ms Dunlea was found with multiple stab wounds in a badly burned bedroom in her home with gardaí recovering a knife from a sink and a phone from a toilet bowl after a fire had been started.

Prosecuting counsel Tom Creed SC said Murphy came to the scene of the fire and made it look like he was in disarray with his top on inside out. Mr Creed said that Murphy wanted people to look at him so that they would think he was in a "panic".

Murphy told gardaí that he "snapped", stabbed Olivia Dunlea in the neck, lit a quilt in her home before setting a fire in the middle of the kitchen table of her property. In her victim impact statement yesterday, the victim's mother Ann Dunlea said it was "gut wrenching" to watch her grandchildren struggle without their mother.

She said: "How do you console a crying child pining for their mother? How do you tell three children that their mother was murdered and their family home set on fire by a deliberate act of evil?"

The case heard Ms Dunlea was still alive when Murphy set fire to her quilt and the table downstairs. However, she was unable to raise the alarm because of her extensive stabbing injuries.

Irish Independent

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