Friday 24 November 2017

Killer's ex complains about gardai

Ombudsman to probe treatment of woman at centre of case in which little girl died after arson attack

Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

THE ex-girlfriend of child killer John Lynch has written to the Garda Ombudsman to complain about her treatment in custody while being questioned over the tragic death of five-year-old Mari Connolly Keane.

Anita O'Hara was in court this week when Lynch pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of the young girl, who died when the 33-year-old set fire to her family home in a jealous rage.

The child's mother, Teresa Keane, said her daughter had "been killed for nothing" and that no apology would ever bring her back.

Prior to the horrific crime, Ms Keane and Ms O'Hara had been very close friends and would regularly socialise together.

The 33-year-old mother of two's evidence was critical in bringing her former partner to justice for the manslaughter of the young girl.

Breaking her silence for the first time, Ms O'Hara said that she had lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman but did not want to comment further.

"I am completely devastated by the tragic event but at this stage I don't want to say any more," Ms O'Hara told the Sunday Independent.

Lynch had found his then girlfriend, Ms O'Hara, fully clothed, lying on a bed with John 'Boy' Connolly, Mari's uncle, who lived with his brother and her father Richard Connolly in Termon Road, Boyle, Co Roscommon.

Two weeks later, after a night bingeing on alcohol and cocaine, Lynch, still seething from the incident, beat his girlfriend with a shower curtain until he broke her jaw.

He then made his way to Connolly's house, hoping to enact some revenge on the man whom he had caught with his then girlfriend.

Ms O'Hara told the 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."

Richard Connolly was minding his three daughters, Lauren, 8, Naomi, 7, and Mari, as his ex-partner Ms Keane was in hospital giving birth to twins that weekend.

The house became an inferno in the early hours of October 3 last year and the family was forced to evacuate.

Mr Connolly convinced two of his girls to jump from the side roof of the house but tragically little Mari was too afraid to jump.

While the horrific events were unfolding, Anita O'Hara was in hospital, receiving treatment for her broken jaw following Lynch's attack.

Gardai tried to interview her while she was in Sligo Hospital but she was then rushed to Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry in order to undergo surgery on her jaw.

She claims in her statement to the Garda Ombudsman that a garda threatened to arrest her while she was in hospital in Derry.

Ms O'Hara also alleges that upon returning from Derry and while she was still groggy from surgery, she was immediately asked to attend Boyle garda station in order to make a statement on the arson attack.

She claims that she fully co-operated with the gardai but did not want to make a statement on that day because she was still feeling unwell following the operation and did not have a solicitor present.

Ms O'Hara said in her complaint: "I told him I had nothing to hide and that I was tired and sore and that I was aware of the seriousness of the situation and that was why I wanted to make my statement the following day with a solicitor."

However, she was arrested and then kept in garda custody for the next 48 hours.

She said: "A solicitor and a doctor saw me and I was put in the cell for the night. I was left in custody for a 48-hour period."

The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission confirmed that it has received a complaint from Ms O'Hara.

Sunday Independent

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