Wednesday 19 December 2018

Irene White's sister asks why it took so long for killer to be caught

IRENE WHITE: Stabbed 34 times and had her throat cut
IRENE WHITE: Stabbed 34 times and had her throat cut
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

The sister of Irene White has questioned why it took gardai more than a decade to catch her murderer.

Anne Delcassian was speaking after a life sentence was handed down to Anthony Lambe (34), a history student who claimed he was paid to murder Ms White in the kitchen of her home in Louth in 2005.

He was eventually tracked down last year after the Garda's Serious Crime Review Team looked into the original investigation, after what one officer said was "relentless" petitioning by Ms Delcassian.

The cold-case review team, led by Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan, made 300 recommendations for gardai to follow up, in a report that was "as thick as a telephone book". Ms Delcassian said. "I mean 300, that is an awful lot of recommendations."

She said she was "delighted" that Lambe had finally been brought to justice for her sister's murder. However, she appealed for anyone with information to come forward and assist the ongoing Garda investigation. Ms Delcassian said she wanted to appeal particularly to women who might know something, asking them to come forward rather than "wait for the knock on the door".

Lambe, who would have been 22 at the time of the murder, was the last person gardai would have suspected of committing such a brutal crime, according to sources close to the investigation.

Ms White (43) was stabbed 34 times and had her throat cut as she was disturbed while doing the dishes in the kitchen of her home, in Dundalk, Co Louth, on the morning of April 6, 2005. Her body was discovered by her mother. There was no sign of forced entry and nothing was taken.

Lambe's name never featured in the original investigation. Originally from Castleblaney, he had studied at Dundalk Institute of Technology and was working there at the time of the murder. He had never come to the attention of gardai, despite his claim that he had a drugs and alcohol habit at the time he committed the murder.

Such was the brutality of the knife attack on Ms White that rumours circulated at the time that a mercenary from overseas was responsible. According to an informed source, rumours like these provided further cover for Lambe, who eventually cleaned up his act and returned to college six years after the crime. He was the faculty representative for art, Celtic studies and philosophy for Maynooth Students' Union in 2013.

"He put himself into everything, to distract from the bad deed," said the source. "He was the very last person you would have expected to have done it. He is way outside the profile that you would be looking at."

Lambe came on the Garda's radar after the cold-case review was launched in 2011. A woman in Australia contacted a confidential telephone line to say he had confessed the murder to her. It took four more years before gardai identified the woman and travelled to Australia to formally interview her.

According to sources familiar with the investigation, Lambe was shocked when he was arrested in his home town of Castleblaney, Co Monaghan, last January as he never expected to be caught. He was then a Phd student with a special interest in archaeology.

He confessed at the outset, telling gardai that he was "paid" to kill Ms White, a woman he never knew, and that he was given the layout of her house.

Lambe claimed he was in a "very bad place" at the time, on drugs and in debt.

He took a cocktail of ecstasy, cocaine and alcohol before going to Ms White's house. He said that after he attacked her, he said a prayer over her body and then jumped over the back wall of the house and ran. He was promised €10,000 but was paid less than half of that, sources said.

Ms Delcassian said she believed Lambe killed her sister for money. "He's an animal basically to have done this to Irene," she added.

Sunday Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News