Monday 19 March 2018

Vital evidence from girlfriend secured criminal conviction

Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

A STATEMENT by John Lynch's former girlfriend, Anita O'Hara, helped to secure the garda case against him.

Lynch met Ms O'Hara while serving his last prison sentence. The young woman was introduced to him by his sister Erin while Lynch was still in custody.

The mother of two began to visit the convicted criminal and, when he was released in 2009, the pair began a relationship.

Lynch, who had a history of assault charges, often beat his girlfriend. Ms O'Hara (33) told gardai that she recalled 10 occasions when she got what she described as a "severe beating".

"To put it mildly it was a tempestuous type of relationship," Lynch's defence barrister John Shortt said in court.

Ms O'Hara lived in Church Road in Boyle with her two daughters Rebecca and Caitlin. Lynch would stay over often, dividing his time between the Boyle address and his mother's home in Ballymote, Co Sligo, 30 minutes away. However, the relationship deteriorated after an incident in August 2011 when Ms O'Hara attended a party at the home of John Boy Connolly, an uncle of Mari.

When she didn't arrive home by the following morning, Lynch went looking for her. He found her in an upstairs bedroom, lying on a bed with John Boy.

While the pair were fully clothed, Lynch became enraged and assaulted the pair. He then dragged Ms O'Hara down the stairs and from the house. He assaulted her again that evening.

The incident played on Lynch's mind and led to a number of rows between the couple. It was in early October of that year that Lynch finally exploded.

That night, Lynch, in a cocaine- fuelled attack beat Ms O'Hara with a metal curtain pole, leaving her with a broken jaw. "He grabbed it and pounded down on me with it," she told gardai.

Ms O'Hara told gardai she received a call later that night from Lynch, saying: "Precious John Boy's house is burning and the rats in Termon have nowhere to live."

But John Connolly was not at home. Instead, his brother Richard Connolly was asleep in the house with his three daughters. Richard made desperate attempts to save Lauren, Naomi and Mari from the flames, but was left paralysed after he fractured his back trying to get them all to safety. Now he can only walk with the aid of crutches.

Lynch was initially charged with assaulting Ms O'Hara but that charge was later dropped. Ms O'Hara was only made aware that the case would not be proceeding when she attended court last week.

She has now made a complaint to the Garda Ombudsman about her treatment.

Irish Independent

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