A seriously ill mother was so terrified when she was bombarded with threatening letters by another woman that she slept with a hammer under her pillow during the final months of her life, her devastated widower has revealed.
Derek Kehoe's wife Mary tragically died from cervical cancer in July 2015 aged just 30 and he claims that the stress of the letters "basically put in the grave. She never had the chance to get better."
Jane Conway (37) received a nine-month suspended sentence at Wexford District Court last week for harassing Derek on various dates from June to November of 2014.
Derek said that some of the letters threatened that Mary and their daughter would be molested, while another letter claimed that Mary was having an affair and had made a sex tape with another man.
Derek, who is from Belvedere Grove in Wexford Town, has spoken candidly about the toll the abuse took on Mary and their two young children.
He said: "My wife slept with a hammer under her pillow. I found this out as she was dying in hospital. She was afraid someone would come in,’ he said.
"My son was three at the time and my daughter was seven. My son was suffering anxiety through his mother. Any bang, any noise and she had me up looking. We were living under a threat all the time.
"She basically put my wife in the grave. She never got the chance to get better.
"The night before she died she had three wishes. One for me to look after the kids, one to do what I could to draw attention to cervical cancer and one to bring this woman [Jane Conway] to justice, and I feel I’ve done that.
"It has been three years since she got caught and I do feel I have justice. If she had been sent to prison she would have been out in a few months, so at least she’s out there living with the shame of what she did."
Ms Conway's solicitor Tim Cummings apologised to Derek on behalf of his client but her motive for harassing the Kehoes remains unknown.
Judge Haughton noted that guilty pleas had been offered and that there were what he called ‘background issues’ affecting Conway’s behaviour.
However, he was not impressed that she had lied to probation service staff.
The judge recorded a nine-month sentence. He made it clear that he had strongly considered letting her serve her time in prison but eventually decided to suspend the jail term.
She was told that she must have no future contact whatsoever with Derek Kehoe, his partner or his children by any means.
Jane Conway was free to leave court after signing an 18-month bond to keep the peace.
She was also banned from contact, directly or indirectly, with Derek or his children and was barred from using social media or the internet to post references relating to the family as part of the bond.
"It is difficult to understand how anyone could be so vile in their correspondence," Judge Haughton said.
Derek has said that he is relieved that the sentencing is over.
"After so long it’s a massive relief. I slept in the morning for the first time in years. I slept for 10 hours. The weight has gone from my shoulders and my wife can finally rest.
"I didn’t even know this woman[Conway] and the only justice I will get is seeing her named and shamed for the torment that she put my wife and my family through," said heartbroken Derek.