'Savage death at predator's hands haunts our family'
ALL she has left is the image of a closed coffin and a lock of her son's hair, writes Ralph Riegel.
The heartbroken mother of a murder victim last night described his killer as a predator who left her son with over 100 separate injuries.
Mother-of-four Geraldine McManus sobbed as she said that John Walsh (45) was no friend of her son, John (25), who suffered a serious brain injury as a teen.
"He is a predator -- he preyed on the innocence and the goodness of John," she said.
Mrs McManus also said her family was appalled at the revelation that John Walsh was on High Court bail for a drugs charge when he battered her son to death in October 2008.
"We are very angry -- and very bitter," she said, warning that the system had failed her family.
However, she said her family had nothing but praise for gardai who successfully located John's body in a Kerry ditch -- and focussed their investigation on Walsh.
In her victim impact statement, Mary McManus (18), John's sister, said they are still haunted by the nightmarish death that John received at Walsh's hands.
The young woman revealed to the court that, just days before his death, her brother had joked about writing a book on his life but couldn't think up a final chapter.
"On the last day John came home, a week before he died, he told us with how he decided he would write a book called: ''I Didn't Do It' by John McManus''.
"He said he was just waiting for a good ending. Unfortunately, this ending would happen sooner than he thought and it wasn't the good ending he was expecting. Instead, it was filled with hatred and evil. Now, all we have left is the image of a closed coffin and a lock of hair from our beautiful brother and son," she sobbed.
The savagery of her brother's killing still shocks the family.
"A part of us died that night -- and for the months and weeks that followed we were numb. Reality was too hard to face," she said.
"The horrific death that John got will haunt us. It is a death that no family should have to go through especially when it was in his own home where he felt safe," she added.