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Saturday 23 February 2019

'He killed my only son, he's not going to kill me as well'

Patricia Conroy, mother of murder victim Daragh Conroy (14).
Patricia Conroy, mother of murder victim Daragh Conroy (14).
Murder victim Darragh Conroy

Brian Byrne

THE mother of a 14-year-old schoolboy beaten to death with a hammer said she refuses to let his killer ruin the rest of her life as it emerged he is due for release in under two years' time.

Darren Goodwin (26), formerly of Graigue, Mountmellick, Co Laois, was sentenced to life in prison for the 2003 murder of Darragh Conroy.

Goodwin was aged 16 when he was sentenced in 2004 and at a review last week Mr Justice Barry White fixed a release date of July 1, 2016, but directed he must receive therapy twice weekly prior to his release.

Darragh's mother Patricia, who attended the review, said "there is nothing I can do" about Goodwin's release, but vowed that while he had murdered her only child, "he's not going to kill me".

Speaking to the Irish Independent, she said: "At least there's a date. At least I don't have to go through it every year, and listen to rumours that he's getting out. That has been the worst. It has been 11 years of suffering for all of it. Myself and his dad are separated but it's the very same for him."

The teenage boy's body was discovered in a waste ground in Smith's Field, Mountmellick, before midnight on November 11, 2003. Darragh had suffered six blows to his head, five of which were inflicted while he was on the ground.

Ms Conroy said that almost 11 years after his tragic death, "it doesn't get easier".

"If he'd grown up, I think of all the things he could be doing. The friends that he went to school with, some of them are fathers and have jobs now. He could have had a partner, it wouldn't have mattered whether they were male or female. It's just that his life is gone."

She said she still regularly visits Darragh's grave. "That's the sum total of what I have left of my son. I have a few pictures, some of this clothes, his school clothes, and that's it."

She said Goodwin had continued to show no remorse for the murder, which he had told classmates about before carrying out.

"The hardest part about it is the lack of remorse. You know by a person if they're upset. But his father was more upset than he was."

Ms Conroy, a legal executive who also volunteers with her local drama group, said she has met a new partner and is "very lucky" to have a hugely supportive network of family, friends and colleagues.

"I have a very good family, a very good partner, and very good friends. I could be by myself, which would be horrendous. I have three nephews and a niece, aged from 11 to 22. They're all I have. They're great kids. You can't be jealous of your sister for having her children."

Goodwin pleaded not-guilty to the murder of Darragh at his trial in 2004.

In an emotional victim impact statement, Ms Conroy revealed that on the night of the attack, she had searched the area for her son and repeatedly called his mobile phone, but it was turned off.

Trial evidence found Goodwin had attempted to sell Darragh's phone after the murder.

During his sentencing, Mr White said: "You devastated the life of his mother who will grieve and mourn to her dying day for her only child."

Irish Independent

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