Thursday 22 August 2019

Stabbed mother of three alive when her home was set ablaze

Olivia Dunlea
Olivia Dunlea

Ralph Riegel

A man has admitted the manslaughter but denied the murder of mother-of-three Olivia Dunlea (36), whose stabbed body was found in her burning Cork home.

The Central Criminal Court murder trial of Darren Murphy (41) was told Ms Dunlea, who had been dating the defendant for only eight weeks, had been stabbed six times but was still alive when her home was set on fire.

Cork Fire Brigade recovered her badly burned body in an upstairs bedroom and she had to be identified from dental records.

Ms Dunlea's three young children were not in the property that evening.

Murphy, of Dan Desmond Villas, Passage West, Cork, when arraigned before Judge Patrick McCarthy and a jury of seven women and five men, replied: "Not guilty to murder - guilty of manslaughter."

His plea was not accepted by the Director of Public Prosecution.

Tom Creed SC, for the State, said Murphy was charged with the murder of Ms Dunlea at her Pembroke Crescent home in Passage West, Cork, on February 17, 2013.

In outlining the case, he said State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy would offer evidence that Ms Dunlea suffered four shallow stab wounds to the front of her neck and two stab wounds behind her ear, one wound so deep it penetrated her spinal canal.

Mr Creed said Dr Cassidy determined she was still alive when the fire started.

"Her [Dr Cassidy's] opinion is that Ms Dunlea was incapacitated by the knife wound to the back of her neck."

She was found lying face down on the bed having made no attempt to escape the blaze.

Mr Creed said witnesses would offer evidence that Ms Dunlea and the defendant had been out socialising that night.

Later, neighbours noticed Ms Dunlea's home on fire.

Murphy drove to the house and was seen shouting and sobbing on the street outside. He tried to rush past fire brigade officials to get into the burning home.

He voluntarily gave gardaí two sets of clothing but when pub CCTV footage was checked, it was not what he had been wearing that night.

Gardaí arrived at Murphy's home with a search warrant and the defendant became emotional.

He said he had made a mistake and given the wrong clothing - the correct clothing having been placed under decking at his home.

Murphy said "a massive row" had erupted with Ms Dunlea.

"He said he snapped, grabbed a knife by the bed and stabbed Olivia two times in the neck with it."

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News