| 21.3°C Dublin

Shoelace strangler gets life for killing fiancee

A MAN who murdered his fiancee by strangling her with his shoelaces at their home was jailed for life yesterday.

Gerard O'Hara (32) told gardai he could not explain why he had murdered his partner Lisa Doyle (24) but admitted that he got the urge to strangle "once or twice a year".

He killed Ms Doyle (24) in Leighlinbridge, Co Carlow, on September 20, 2009.

The couple had planned to marry in June of this year.

Detective Garda Brendan Murphy told Ms Aileen Donnelly, prosecuting, O'Hara presented himself to gardai at Leighlinbridge station on the morning of September 20 in an agitated state.

He said the accused, who was shouting and pulling at his hair, pointed to a letter which was headed with his own address and read: "I have done a terrible thing to Lisa."

The letter went on to say that O'Hara "could never explain" what he had done because he did not know why, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.

O'Hara wrote that when he drank alcohol he had "terrible thoughts", adding that he loved his fiancee with all his heart and that she deserved better.

Det Gda Murphy told the court that after O'Hara had been placed in a cell at his own behest, he removed his shoes, pointed at the right shoelace and said that he had used it to strangle his partner.

When gardai arrived at the house on Leighlinbridge high street, they found Ms Doyle's fully clothed body lying under a duvet in an upstairs bedroom.

Ms Donnelly told the court that Lisa had died from asphyxiation due to mechanical compression of the neck.

Det Gda Murphy agreed with Ms Donnelly that O'Hara, who had worked locally at a variety of jobs but was unemployed at the time of the murder, had been in a relationship with Lisa for four and half years.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

In interview, O'Hara told gardai that he and his fiancee had spent the Saturday night socialising with Lisa's sister and her partner.

Det Gda Murphy agreed with Ms Donnelly that others had remarked how both O'Hara and Lisa appeared to be in high spirits and that CCTV footage revealed the two were holding hands as they walked to a local pub.


He told gardai that he and his fiancee went to bed after returning home in the early hours of Sunday morning.

O'Hara said that as Lisa lay with her back to him, he strangled her by placing his left arm around her neck and using his right arm to tighten the hold. He told gardai that his fiancee did not cry out but called his name faintly.

He told gardai he then reached down to the floor, removed a shoelace and used this to again strangle his girlfriend. He then dressed the body and removed himself from the scene.

A victim impact statement read aloud to the court by Lisa's sister Angela Doyle, recounted the close relationship her family shared, and described how life without her sister had become a "nightmare". Angela described her sister as a poet, a brilliant athlete, and a "blessing" to her family.

Most Watched