Thursday 20 June 2019

Man who murdered his wife and toddler daughter gets day release from prison to attend college

Frank Mc Cann on his way to a college course in Ballyfermot on Day release from Arbour Hill Jail
Frank Mc Cann on his way to a college course in Ballyfermot on Day release from Arbour Hill Jail
Frank Mc Cann on his way to a college course in Ballyfermot on Day release from Arbour Hill Jail
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

Double murderer Frank McCann is experiencing daily freedom from Arbour Hill prison where he is coming to the end of a life sentence for torching his wife and 18-month-old foster child to death after setting fire to their house.

More than 25 years since the publican deliberately set fire to his own Rathfarnham home, killing Esther and little Jessica, McCann has recently started a computer course in Ballyfermot.

He leaves the prison on his own each weekday morning and gets a bus to Chapelizod, before taking the short walk to the Ballyfermot Training Centre where he is enrolled in a ten week computer course.

Independent.ie has observed him leave the college in the afternoon and walk up to Ballyfermot where he spends some time before going back to prison by bus.

In September 1992 McCann knew that a secret from his past as a swimming coach was about to become known to his family while authorities did background checks on them as part of their application to adopt toddler Jessica.

The fact that he had fathered a child with a 17-year-old girl with special needs was about to become known, so McCann made the decision to kill Esther and Jessica  to stop the truth coming out.

Frank Mc Cann waiting for a bus near the CCJ.
Frank Mc Cann waiting for a bus near the CCJ.

Esther (36) knew nothing about it, or the sex abuse scandals that were about to unravel about his two swimming coach friends George Gibney and Derry O’Rourke, who were charged with sex abuse offences against young swimming club members.

Gibney fled the country and O’Rourke was convicted.

The little girl that Frank and Esther planned to adopt, who was born in 1991, was the daughter of Frank’s own adopted sister.

But Esther noticed delays in the application, and wasn't aware that concerns about Frank’s secret past had been reported to the Adoption Board by someone known to the teenager he had fathered the child with.

Conor Feehan confronts Frank Mc Cann on his way to a College Course in Ballyfermot on day release from Arbour Hill Jail.
Conor Feehan confronts Frank Mc Cann on his way to a College Course in Ballyfermot on day release from Arbour Hill Jail.

When they finally got an appointment with the authorities on the adoption, Frank knew he was about to be exposed. He set about killing Esther and Jessica.

On September 4, 1992, he set up a gas cylinder and a blowtorch in the house on Butterfield Avenue and went to work in his Blessington pub.

Esther and Jessica died in the blaze, with Frank playing the distraught husband when he arrived back at the scene having been alerted to the emergency.

Esther’s family believe this was Frank's third or fourth attempt to kill her and Jessica.

Prior to the fire Esther woke one night to find the electric blanket on her bed on fire, on another occasion there was a gas leak at the house, and another time the brakes on her car failed.

McCann was arrested and charged in April 1993. His first trial was suspended when he tried to set fire to himself with a lighter in the court.

The second trial was 1996 where McCann was found guilty and sentenced to two concurrent life sentences for the murders.

Today his hair is greying, but McCann looks fit and healthy as he takes his daily trips to Ballyfermot.

He made no comment when approached by Independent.ie, staying silent on any questions as he walked to the college.

He would not answer questions on if he is remorseful, what his plans are when he leaves prison, if he is a changed man or not, or how he is adapting to life outside of prison.

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