Sunday 22 September 2019

Fury over compassionate prison release for killer who knifed mum of three

Darren Murphy. Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited
Darren Murphy. Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Cork Courts Limited
Olivia Dunlea

Ralph Riegel

The family of murdered mother-of-three Olivia Dunlea have expressed outrage after her killer received compassionate release from prison to visit a relative's grave.

Ms Dunlea (36) was stabbed six times and left to die in her burning home by Darren Murphy. The 42-year-old was jailed for life last year after being convicted of Ms Dunlea's murder.

Now, the victim's family have said relatives were appalled to discover the killer was being given temporary compassionate release from Cork Prison, despite being just over a year into his sentence.

Murphy has been almost six years in custody as he went through three different trial processes for legal reasons.

Ms Dunlea's sister Ann said her family were in total shock.

"It is very upsetting; we just cannot believe it. The shock and the anger we feel is unreal," she said.

"They [Irish Prison Service] let us know he was getting compassionate leave and we contacted them back saying we were not one bit happy. We were actually disgusted."

Ann was so upset she contacted Cork's RedFM to publicly highlight her family's anger.

"The word that upset us most was compassionate. Where was the compassion shown to Olivia when she was brutally murdered?" she said.

The release will involve a brief visit to a graveyard under prison escort. It was sanctioned under regulations to allow inmates temporary release for escorted visits in compassionate circumstances.

"We knew nothing about it but, as you can imagine, we are horrified," Ann said.

"Where is the justice? He took her life. He took her from her three young children but he has entitlements?"

Ms Dunlea had to be identified from dental records.

"We got no goodbyes. We got to say goodbye to Olivia by looking at a framed photo of her on her coffin.

"All he did from the very beginning was lie. I was outside the house that night and he was there crying crocodile tears. Then to put us through the agony of three trials.

"He has appealed the last trial and we are in limbo again. Then he has the cheek to apply for compassionate release.

"There is no justice in this country. I would love to sit down with the minister for justice and talk about this and what families go through."

Ann said the family remains appalled that, having stabbed Olivia and set fire to her house, Murphy went to his own home, hid his clothing under decking and went to bed awaiting the phone call from the emergency services.

In June 2018, Murphy, of Passage West, Cork, was convicted of the murder of Ms Dunlea and was handed a mandatory life sentence.

Murphy had admitted the manslaughter but denied the murder of the mother of three whose stabbed body was found in her burning home at Pembroke Crescent, Passage West, Cork, on February 17, 2013.

Ms Dunlea, who had only been dating the defendant for eight weeks before her death, had been stabbed six times but the young mother was still alive when her home was set on fire by Murphy.

Irish Independent

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