Friday 24 November 2017

Parole for murder after just seven years is 'obscene'

Fiona Ellis

THE family of a mother and two children murdered on Christmas Day have called for an overhaul of the parole system.

Sharon Whelan (30) and her two daughters Zara (7) and Nadia (2) were murdered on Christmas Day, 2008.

Ms Whelan was raped and strangled by postman Brian Hennessy (24) as her two daughters Zsara (7) and Nadia (2) lay sleeping.

Both girls died after Hennessy then set fire to the farmhouse in Roscon, Co Kilkenny.

Speaking on Newstalk yesterday, Ms Whelan's brother John called for the parole system to be changed.

He said it was "obscene" that jailed killers could able to apply for parole after seven years behind bars, and every year after.

"That's what families at the moment are faced with every day, the thought that the person who murdered their loved one not just after seven years, but every year after that, is entitled to go before a parole board," said John Whelan who is vice-chair of AdVIC, an organisation which advocates for victims of homicide.

CHRISTMAS

"Now to us, that is just obscene.

"Do we want to live in a society where people who have perpetrated these awful crimes can be released after seven, 12, 13 years?"

Ms Whelan's father Christy, who lived with his wife Nancy just one mile from where his daughter died, said the family have been served a life sentence of their own.

"We can't go to a parole board and say let us off," he said.

"We have to do our sentence. And we have to do that for the rest of our lives."

On the night before the murders, Christy Whelan drove to his daughter's small, rented cottage to deliver presents.

He was the last family member to see his daughter alive as he handed the gifts to her at the door.

Neighbours noticed the smoke in the early hours of Christmas morning and raised the alarm.

Hennessy was given three life sentences for the murders in 2009 after he admitted his guilt just as his trial was about to begin.

However, in 2010 he succeeded in his uncontested application to the Court of Criminal Appeal to have all three life sentences run concurrently.

Irish Independent

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