Paul Williams: 'How the mastermind behind Irene White killing is now likely to face charges'
Gardaí expect the prime suspect who ordered the murder of Irene White in Dundalk 14 years ago is now likely to face murder charges after a second man, described as a "close family friend" of the victim, was sentenced to life in prison yesterday.
The Irish Independent can reveal that Niall Power (47), from Riverstown, Dundalk, Co Louth, who pleaded guilty to the 2005 murder, was one of two men who were identified as the prime suspects in the original Garda investigation.
Power was arrested and questioned at length about the horrific killing in which Ms White suffered 34 stab wounds after answering the door to her killer on April 6, 2005.
Power solicited Anthony Lambe, from Co Monaghan, to carry out the murder on behalf of the third man who the Central Criminal Court heard yesterday had asked Power in 2003/2004 to sort Ms White out. He understood this to mean he wanted her dead.
Lambe, who was jailed for life after pleading guilty in January of last year, had described knocking on Ms White's door and telling her that her gate had swung open.
He immediately attacked her, stabbing her in the chest and back, and cutting her throat. The killer claimed he had said a prayer over her body.
Lambe (35), from Castleblayney, had been working for Power in the security business at the time. Power paid him for the killing later that day.
Lambe, described as an historian, did not feature as a suspect in the original enquiry and later spent some years working in Australia. Although they had no way of knowing it at the time, Power had even given gardaí the name of the killer when he was being questioned about the murder.
In a cautioned statement on the day of the murder Power mentioned Lambe as he was accounting for his movements that morning and afternoon.
"I met Anthony Lambe, a student at the college who works for me part-time. He is from Castleblayney. I gave him his wages." Power repeated this a year later when he was arrested for questioning about the murder.
Within hours of the alarm being raised, detectives in Dundalk had arrived at a motive for the horrific crime which we cannot report here at this stage for legal reasons.
Witnesses told how the third suspect in the case had threatened Ms White that she "wouldn't know the day or the hour that she would be done" and that he would have an alibi when it did happen.
On the day of the murder, gardaí also established that Power had driven his van past Ms White's home at 11.48am - 40 minutes before her body was found by her mother.
Gardaí always suspected that Power had acted as the middleman in the crime.
Sometime later a former girlfriend of Power contacted gardaí and said he had told her that the third man was "going to do" Ms White, as in, have her killed. When this was put to Power by gardaí subsequently, he denounced the woman as "crazy".
But the third suspect did have a cast-iron alibi for the time of the murder, which was corroborated by phone data and CCTV. There was no forensic evidence or telephone data that could sustain a conspiracy charge against the men at the time and the case remained open.
However, gardaí would not give up on the investigation and it was reviewed by the Cold Case Review Team which led to an appeal for fresh information in July 2012. Lambe's former girlfriend called gardaí anonymously from Australia to say he had admitted murdering the mother.
Gardaí eventually traced the woman and interviewed her. A second woman also came forward and when Lambe was arrested he confessed.
On the day Lambe was sentenced to life, Power walked into Dundalk garda station and confessed his role and outlined the involvement of the third man.