Wednesday 16 October 2019

Murder victim's brother says it's 'unbelievable' killers can still benefit from their crimes

COUPLE: Tanya and Paul pictured together at a family function
COUPLE: Tanya and Paul pictured together at a family function

Cormac McQuinn Political Correspondent

THE brother of a man who was murdered by his wife has said he finds it “unbelievable” that politicians have not done something sooner to change the law so killers can’t benefit from their crime.

Noel Byrne, whose brother Paul was stabbed more than 60 times by his estranged wife Tanya Doyle, became emotional as he delivered powerful testimony to the Oireachtas Justice Committee.

Its members are examining a proposed Bill known as ‘Celine’s Law’ put forward by Fianna Fail TD Jim O’Callaghan.

The law has informally been called after production company owner Celine Cawley, who was killed by her husband Eamonn Lillis.

It came after Lillis, despite being convicted of manslaughter, maintained he was entitled to ownership of assets he jointly held with his wife, Including homes in Dublin and France. Lillis ultimately won the right to a 50pc share of Irish assets following a High Court ruling.

The family of murdered Clodagh Hawe have also recently been outspoken in their calls for changes.

Celine Cawley
Celine Cawley

Mr Byrne told the Oireachtas Committee that his brother Paul’s murderer, Tanya Doyle admitted to Gardaí that she killed him for his house and money.

Doyle, of Pairc Gleann, Trasna, Aylesbury, Tallaght was found guilty of Mr Byrne’s 2009 murder and sentenced to life in prison.

She was convicted in 2013 and is due to be considered for parole this year.

Mr Byrne said his brother worked for a well-known company and his income was more than €100,000 at the time of his death.

He gave an explanation on the background of how Paul and his wife had split up.

He said his brother was previously stabbed in the back some years before his death. His lung was punctured and he was hospitalised for around two months.

He said that on leaving hospital Paul and Tanya went though a separation but Mr Byrne continued to support his estranged wife financially.

She later moved to Portugal but they stayed in contact and she told him she had some difficulties.

Paul organised flights back to Ireland and she moved into his home where they had separate bedrooms.

They were still in the process of going through a legal separation and had reached an agreement on the terms of the settlement.

It was due to be signed on the Tuesday after Paul’s death.

On the day when he was murdered Paul was due to attend a 21st birthday party.

Noel had made arrangements to collect Paul on the way but they were running a late and Paul called a taxi.

Mr Byrne said his brother’s murder was “pre-planned”.

A carving knife was bought in a local shop and Tanya Doyle cancelled the taxi that Paul had ordered.

Mr Byrne said: “In the coroners’ report that was read out in court Paul was stabbed over 68 times. Five vital organs were punctured. Any one would have caused his death.

“He dialled 999 and the eight and three quarter minutes of the remainder of his life was recorded”

Mr Byrne had to pause to compose himself at this point in his address to the committee.

He said he wouldn’t outline the conversation from the 999 call while his brother died.

“But sufficient to say that a number of defensive wounds were critical. There was one slash wound on his arm that peeled skin back off his arm for four inches.

“He asked Tanya at one point to call an ambulance, that she had stabbed him in the heart.

“Andi is my belief that the last stab wound happened as he lay on the bed and the carving knife pieced one side of his neck and out the other.

“As I said it just took under nine minutes for Paul to bleed to death.

“Tanya was arrested at the house. She was washing herself down and changing clothes. She was just about to leave when the police turned up.

“That evening under questioning Tanya admitted to the guards that she killed Paul for the house and for his money.

“She said to guards that there was no point in just stabbing him –and her understanding of that was like what happened before – because she wouldn’t get enough.”

“Tanya was convicted of murder in 2013.”

He said: “After the conviction had taken place and the estate went to probate we received legal advice and that legal advice recommended to us that a settlement was needed to purchase her tenancy of the house…”

He said the financial controller at the company where Paul worked gave the family an undertaking immediately after his death that no monies would be paid to Ms Doyle.

However, the financial controller – who was also the chair of the pension - changed a number of years later.

After the trial the family contacted the new controller and “they told us there was an obligation on them them to pay her the spouses portion of the benefit form the pension”.

All other portions of the pension were paid to the family.

The amount of the pension would have been nearly €23,000 a year which the family has estimated would be worth €1m to Doyle over her lifetime.

“This was why Paul was murdered. For the house and for the money. She had stated this to the police categorically”

Mr Byrne said the family were in contact with the insurance company that held the pension.

“The insurance company said they had an obligation to pay this money.

“We can’t understand how an insurance company would pay a convicted murderer who stated that they killed a person for money to receive any benefit whatsoever”.

He said that in 2016: “the trustees of the pension sent us an email stating that they had come to an agreement that no monies would be paid.”

“It’s a shame to think that this September will be ten years [since Mr Byrne’s death] that a person that commits murder for gain is still in a position to receive that gain.

“Tanya Doyle… will be up for parole again 2019. June I believe is the date.

“We as a family have been consistently struggling with the events of this murder since 2009.

“We as a family, myself and my two sisters and my wife… can’t understand how a person how admitted murdering someone for money can benefit from their crime.

“It’s unbelievable that you as Dáil members haven’t done something sooner.”

He said research shows ten women a year are killed by a partner or spouse.

He added: “Since 2009 over 100 people have been murdered by partner or spouse probably finding themselves in the same position as us and having to battle through with the same legal jargon and issues surrounding their death.

“I really find this very, very distressing” adding: “nothing has been done about it”.

Committee chairman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin thanked Mr Byrne for his “very courageous address”.

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