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Sunday 17 December 2017

We will never forgive murderers, say family of 'big baby with heart of gold'

Jonathan Duke was murdered in Bandon in 2011
Jonathan Duke was murdered in Bandon in 2011
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THE family of "a big baby with a heart of gold" whose strangled body with over 100 separate injuries was recovered from a west Cork river, warned they will never forgive his killers.

The family of Jonathan 'Dukie' Duke (27) broke down as Catherine O'Connor (37) and Ciprian Grozavu (39) were jailed for life after being convicted following separate murder trials of killing the young father-of-one (pictured) in 2011.

Mr Duke's sister, Cindy, said the brutal nature of the killing in Bridge House, Bandon, Co Cork still haunts the tight-knit family.

"It was heart-breaking to hear all the horrendous facts being put before us . . . we will never forget, we will never forgive," she said in a harrowing victim impact statement.

Ms Duke described her brother as "a giant, a big baby with a heart of gold. We loved him very much and he loved us. It has been unbearable. It just does not make sense," she said.

"We feel we could die with the pain. Words do not do justice for the way we loved him. He was the only man in our lives for such a long time," she said.

Cindy said her brother was incredibly protective of her, his other sisters, Nicole and Shannon, as well as his mother, Michelle. "We cannot imagine why his life had to end in such a horrible, cruel and evil way. He should have had the rest of his life in front of him."

Mr Duke's daughter, Angel (10), also paid an emotional tribute to her father.

"He was the very best," she said.

However, Ms Duke revealed that Angel now cannot bear to walk along the River Bandon.

"She cannot bring herself to go back . . . her last sight of her father was seeing him walking towards Bridge House on that Sunday evening. What a terrible last memory (for any child)."

As a child, he had been cared for in Flat 3 in Bridge House by his mother, Michelle, the very flat in which he was later murdered.

Ms Duke said her brother had lived just three minutes from his family home. Now, the family has a 15-minute walk to his graveside.

Irish Independent

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