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Lengthy sentences for brutal sibling slayers

Dearbhail McDonaldLegal Affairs CorrespondentTHE sisters who were found guilty of killing and dismembering their mother's African lover were last night given lengthy jail sentences.

Charlotte Mulhall received a mandatory life sentence for the murder of her mother Kathleen's boyfriend.

Elder sister Linda has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for the manslaughter of Farah Swali Noor, whose dismembered body parts were found floating in Dublin's Royal Canal last year.

The women, dubbed the "Scissor Sisters" following the brutal crime that fuelled fears of ritual killings in Ireland, had earlier been found guilty of killing Mr Noor on March 20, 2005, after a drinking session at their mother's home in Summerhill.

They chopped up the 38-year-old's body before dumping his headless remains in the Royal Canal at Ballybough. The victim's head and penis have never been found.

Sentencing the women at Dublin Central Criminal Court, Mr Justice Paul Carney said the case was the most grotesque of killings that had occurred within his professional lifetime.

Following their trial in October, Charlotte Mulhall (24), of Kilclare Heights, Tallaght, was found guilty of murdering the Kenyan.

Linda Mulhall (31), of the same address, was found guilty of manslaughter.

The mother-of-four cried in court as she was sentenced yesterday.

The jury, which took 18 hours over four days of deliberation to reach its decision, had accepted her defence of provocation.

The court heard that on the day of the killing Linda, Charlotte, their mother Kathleen and her partner Mr Noor had been drinking heavily in the city centre.

Linda told gardai that, back in their mother's flat, the women took ecstasy, with Mrs Mulhall crushing a tablet into the victim's drink so that they were all on the same buzz.

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He was said to have made a pass at Linda and, telling him to get his hands off her sister, Charlotte picked up a Stanley blade and cut his throat. Linda admitted hitting the victim many times over the head with a hammer.

The pair dragged his body into the bathroom of their mother's flat and spent hours cutting it up with a breadknife and a hammer.

He suffered more than 20 stab wounds to his body.

Mr Noor's torso and limbs were spotted by passers-by in the canal 10 days later.

The severed head was taken in a separate bag on a bus to Tallaght, where it was buried and reburied in a number of locations. It has never been recovered.

Gardai are still trying to locate the girls' mother, who is believed to have left the jurisdiction.

Their father, John Mulhall, committed suicide last December, but he is not believed to have been involved in the killing.

Linda admitted

hitting the

victim many times

over the head

with a hammer

The victim, who arrived in Ireland in December 1996, had claimed to be a Somalian called Sheilila Salim.

He was granted citizenship in March 1999 on the grounds that he was the father of an Irish-born child.

Gardai traced his identity through media appeals and they located his last address at Mrs Mulhall's home at Richmond Cottages in Ballybough.

Despite extensive cleaning by the women, a forensic examination found traces of Mr Noor's blood which were consistent with him dying a violent death.

The sisters and their parents were arrested in August last year but denied any knowledge of the killing.

Just weeks later, Linda contacted investigating officers admitting her involvement.

Her legal team requested a minimal sentence so that she could care for her four children, who are all at school.

They argued that she was paramount in solving the crime.

"I do not regard her as a good mother particularly persuasively," said Mr Justice Carney.

"If she was a good mother of four children she would not be getting herself into a situation like that," he said.

He argued that Linda, a heroin addict, had initially tried to halt the trial by refusing to take Methadone.

The court heard that after the killing Linda had turned to drugs and alcohol, had slashed her arms and spent over a week in a psychiatric hospital prior to court proceedings.

Last month Charlotte Mulhall, who is the mother of an eight-month-old baby, was convicted of prostitution.

Both women also had a history of drug and alcohol abuse.

The State had earlier appealed for sentencing to be adjourned as efforts were being made for the victim's mother to attend the hearing.

And the legal teams for the defence had argued that the psychiatric and probation reports were not yet ready.

Dismissing the appeal, the judge refused leave to appeal both sentences.

Imposing the mandatory life sentence on the younger sister, Mr Justice Carney said: "This is the most grotesque of killings that has occurred within my professional lifetime."

He told Linda that he had the power to also impose a life sentence on her, but as the jury had allowed a defence of provocation he had to respect that.

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