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Saturday 21 April 2018

Sisters' Halloween disco turned into horror night for family

Collect picture of murdered Jill Bishop (centre white)
Collect picture of murdered Jill Bishop (centre white)
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

Jill Bishop was only 18 when she dressed up to go to a local disco in Bray on Halloween night in 1991, shunning the chance to go to the city centre with other pals because she felt safe nearer home.

She worked part-time in the RDS in Ballsbridge and had returned home to Corke Abbey in Bray early on Halloween night.

Having suffered bad health, including painful arthritis and poor eyesight, she was looking forward to her night out, determined to enjoy life despite her health problems.

Dressed in clothes she had borrowed from her mother, May, and sister, Karen, she put in her new contact lenses and left her thick glasses behind.

After styling her curly dark hair, she borrowed £10 from her dad, Ciaran, and hugged him and her mum.

Then she left, taking Karen with her to her first disco.

Their destination was the Bray Head Hotel's Halloween Dance.

Read more: 'It's not our place to forgive man who killed our Jill, only she could do that'

At the disco, Jill met a young man and seemed to get on well with him. He was Michael Dean McLaughlin who, it was reported, was well-dressed, handsome and aged 23.

After the disco, the group walked home, with Karen and some pals staying ahead, not wanting to be "gooseberries".


Karen arrived home at around 3.30am - the time their mother had told them to be home, but two hours Jill hadn't yet appeared.

It was raining, and being the end of October it was late before daylight arrived. Frantic with worry, Mr Bishop went to report Jill missing.

At this stage Mrs Bishop had a gut feeling Jill was dead, but her husband was trying to calm her - after all, he reasoned, murders were very rare in Ireland.

Jill's beaten and naked body was found the next day by a local boy who went to retrieve a football that had gone over the garden wall of a house near the seafront.

McLaughlin had beaten her to death and, during the struggle, had forced a £1 coin down her throat, supposedly to stifle her screams.

It did not take gardai long to identify their chief suspect. He had been seen with Jill leaving the disco and, according to her family, he was approached by gardai the same day her body was found.

McLaughlin was originally charged with manslaughter, released, re-arrested and charged with murder. The trial was held the follow- ing May. It lasted four days and McLaughlin was given a mandatory life sentence.

He has now served nearly 25 years in prison.

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