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Families welcome new hunt for clues over old murders

THE Garda 'cold case' team has made significant progress on a number of investigations, a top detective said today after the conviction of Vera McGrath for murder.

Mrs McGrath (61) was sentenced to life imprisonment yesterday for the murder of her husband, Brian, in Co Westmeath 23 years ago.

Her co-accused, Colin Pinder, (47) was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. He will be sentenced later.

The case was the first first murder conviction for the Garda Serious Crime Review Team, a cold case unit which is re-examining the evidence in 14 unsolved murder cases.

Detective Superintendent Christy Mangan, who led the investigation into the murder of Brian McGrath, said today they have made significant progress on a number of the cases.

The team had received a very positive reaction from the families of those killed.

"They see that the case hasn't been forgotten about," he said. "It also causes a lot of anxiety for suspects. They believe the case has gone away, but we certainly haven't forgotten about it.

"We're jogging people's minds, pricking their consciences -- and it does bug them."

The Brian McGrath case was a complex investigation due to the passage of time, with some people unable to give evidence.


"It can be very difficult to get all the pieces of the jigsaw together in order to present it in a court for a prosecution," he said. "It is difficult but it has been done in this case and we're satisfied with what has taken place."

Among the 14 cases it is examining is the fatal shooting of Grace Livingstone in her home in Malahide, Co Dublin, almost 18 years ago.

It has already been subject to two other Garda investigations, which produced conflicting results and led to an internal row in the force.

The initial investigation concluded that Mrs Livingstone's husband, Jimmy, a senior Revenue official should be regarded as the prime suspect, but after a study of the file on the case, then Garda Commissioner Patrick Culligan ordered a new inquiry.

This report cleared Mr Livingstone of his wife's killing and concluded that she had been killed about an hour before her husband had arrived home from work and found her dead in their bedroom.

The cold case team is also in the midst of fresh inquires into the murder of Dublin teenager Raonaid Murray, whose body was found close to her home in Glenageary after midnight on Friday, September 3, 1999.

Other cases being reviewed include:

  • Christopher Payne (52), who died six months after being beaten up at a house in Rutland Grove, Crumlin, on May 13, 1988.

  • Henry Hurley, a Limerick taxi driver murdered between 3am and 4.30pm on Friday, July 7, 1989, at Reascamogue, Sixmilebridge, Co Clare,

  • Emer O'Loughlin (23), found murdered in a caravan at Ballybornagh, Co Clare, in April, 2005,

  • Lorcan O'Byrne, murdered at the Anglers Rest pub, Chapelizod, Dublin,at 11.30pm on October 11, 1981,

  • Dessie Fox, murdered at Healy's Bridge, Downings South, Prosperous, Co Kildare, on September 30, 1990.

  • Eddie Fitzmaurice, found dead at his home in Bellaghy, Charlestown, Co Mayo, on May 6, 1998.

  • Nora Sheehan, found dead at Shippool, Innishannon, Co Cork, on June 12, 1981.

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