With Brian Kearney eligible for release, his wife’s family recall the nightmare of Siobhán's murder in 2006 – and how they remember her every day
The sisters of Siobhán Kearney, who was murdered by her husband almost 17 years ago, have spoken of their horror at the fact that he is now eligible for parole.
Brian Kearney, who was jailed for life in 2008, used a flex from a vacuum cleaner to strangle his wife, which he then pulled over the door of the en-suite in their bedroom to make it look like a suicide.
The pathologist described Siobhán as being “throttled and garotted”.
Speaking to the Indo Daily Podcast, as the anniversary of Siobhán’s death approaches, her sisters, Sunday Independent columnist Brighid McLaughlin and actor Aisling McLaughlin, spoke about the daily torment they endure as her killer prepares for his release, despite showing no remorse.
The mother of one (38) was brutally killed by Kearney at their home in Goatstown, Dublin, on February 28, 2006.
Brighid McLaughlin said Siobhán died “not knowing” whether her three-year-old son Dan was alive or not.
“He (Kearney) came in and he throttled her. He strangled her twice and she was conscious for a lot of it. He literally hung her over the door with the lead from the hoover,” she said.
“I mean, no words can describe the fear that would cause for her, the only thing she would be thinking about would be Dan.”
Kearney left the couple’s three-year-old son, Dan, wandering in the house alone. “He was wandering downstairs and he [Brian] made him Coco Pops and left him there,” Brighid said.
“The death Siobhán got was beyond horror.
“Dan actually recounted to me that he was a witness to part of that, in terms of looking through a keyhole and hearing his mummy getting sick,” Aisling said.
“He said ‘mammy’s upstairs, in the bedroom, the door’s locked’.”
Aisling McLaughlin said the family feel as if they are the ones who have been handed a life sentence as their sister’s killer is given the opportunity to rehabilitate himself behind bars through education.
“According to [Dr] Marie Cassidy [former state pathologist], he had a moment when he could have changed his mind. He had Siobhán unconscious, and he had a moment there to call an ambulance or get help,” she said.
“But he chose in that moment to finish her off. That’s what he did, and then staged it to look like a suicide.
“This is the brutality of a murderer that is actually being offered parole hearings and reviews, who’s never admitted, taken responsibility or shown any remorse for what he’s done.
“He’s in there, he has studied law, he has studied Spanish – earlier on he got a gold medal in first aid, which is particularly sickening. He has no worries about his mortgage, and he has nothing to worry about.
“Three generations of us...it has really, really tested everybody. There isn’t a day that goes by that there isn’t some reminder or emotion to do with Siobhán.”
Brighid added: “We all have post-traumatic stress disorder on a grand scale and it’s getting worse, I would say.”
Siobhán met Brian Kearney when she was around the age of 20. He was 10 years her senior. The couple separated for a couple of years but got back together and got married abroad by themselves.
Brighid said the couple were “never suited” and that the family could never warm to Kearney. “We never liked him [Brian], never. We just thought that he was extremely boring.
“He disliked us enormously from the very get-go because that’s common practice with people who like to isolate those close to the person,” she said.
“He never showed her love or affection and I remember saying to her, ‘God, Siobhán, what is the attraction?’ because she was so vibrant and so unique. She said,
‘he’s not a womaniser, he doesn’t drink much, doesn’t smoke much, he’s safe’.
“She wanted stability and a happy family life. Now, that said, there were no signs [that] what happened was going to happen. They were never suited.”
The sisters said Siobhán acknowledged that the marriage had broken down before her death and that she and her husband had planned to separate amicably.
Brighid added that domestic violence against women is an “epidemic”.
“For other women listening to this... when you are in a situation with an abuser or with a man and you want to leave or separate, and he refuses to accept it, leave.
“You find somewhere, even if it’s a refuge, you do not stay there for the sake of the children.”
Aisling said Siobhán, who was fondly known as “Seanie”, brought “joy, happiness and fun” to all those she met.
“I don’t think of Siobhán as in the past. For me, Siobhán is always with us and with me, talking to her every day, so she is a force of nature and always will be,” she said.
“She keeps us going because there’s no way that I think we would have been able to keep going through this without the faith and love that we have for Siobhán, and knowing that she’s with us.
“And helping us to endure this and also to do the work that was left, that needed to be done on her behalf.
“The craic was just non-stop from the moment Siobhán walked in the door. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Aisling. “She didn’t know how
to be serious or down and maybe that was the bad thing really at the end of it all because she wasn’t able to show that side.
“That was not a vulnerable part for her, and I think that probably was the downfall because she always put on the craic no matter what, even in those last days and weeks.”
Brighid described Siobhán as “hard-working, witty, immaculately dressed and hilarious”.
“Everything about Siobhán is charged for us with emotion, a lot of sadness obviously – but she is with us all the time,” she said.