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Killer's ex abused by his pals while Christmas shopping

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Rita Harling who has written a book about her husband's abusive behavior towards her

Rita Harling who has written a book about her husband's abusive behavior towards her

Brian Kenny

Brian Kenny

Rita Harling

Rita Harling

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Rita Harling who has written a book about her husband's abusive behavior towards her

A 49-year-old woman who wrote a book about the violent life she endured at the hands of her killer ex-partner was subjected to abuse from four of his close female associates as she was Christmas shopping.

Gardai are investigating the incident which happened at Charlestown Shopping Centre in Finglas at 3pm last Friday when Rita Harling was verbally abused in front of dozens of shocked onlookers.

"This was a very unpleasant experience for that lady and gardai are investigating it," a source said. "The culprits are very close to Ms Harling's former partner Brian Kenny and it seems that this is why she was targeted by them."

The Herald was unable to reach Ms Harling for comment yesterday, but it is understood that she is "very upset" about the incident, which happened as she was minding her own business, according to sources.

Her book, Do or Die. How I Escaped Life With a Murderer, which chronicled how she managed to escape the clutches of convicted Finglas gangland killer Brian Kenny, was published in 2011.

Ms Harling also set up the highly regarded Do or Die Foundation which supports victims of domestic violence.

She experienced such violence herself at Kenny's hands, including during an incident in which a metal broom handle was broken on her back.

Sources say that last Friday's incident was not the first time Ms Harling has suffered intimidation from associates of Kenny.

In an interview after her book was published, she said she was glad her story was out in the open, even though she admitted her own family and friends were shocked when they read it.

"I'm sure his family are in shock as well. There are probably a few stories in the book that they were not aware of - the violence against me by Brian," she said.

"People have been stopping me in the streets and telling me their stories about friends who are in similar situations in terms of a violent partner. It's widespread. It touched a nerve with people.

"I think some people were surprised by the horrific nature of my story, the brutality of it, but it's led some people to seek help with their own abusive relationships."

Ms Harling added that writing the book had been therapeutic.

"It was hard as well and made me face up to things," she said. "I was reliving what had happened to me and that was tough."

She said her daughter, Robyn, had read the book and had been very supportive.

"She had seen me live through it, how I had to keep changing jobs and always worried and always hiding," she said. "That was four or five years of my life that was actually ruined and I had to take my life back."

Kenny is serving a life sentence for the gun slaying in April 2004 of 25-year-old Jonathan O'Reilly, of St Mark's Gardens, Clondalkin, who was murdered in a west Dublin drugs turf feud.

Also given a life sentence was Thomas Hinchon (29), who was with Kenny when the victim was shot dead as he sat in a BMW car outside Cloverhill Prison on April 17, 2004.

The Central Criminal Court heard that a motorcycle with two men on it had pulled up alongside the car and a number of shots were fired through the window, killing O'Reilly.

The evidence of supergrass Joseph O'Callaghan played a major role in Kenny and Hinchon being convicted.

During the trial, the court heard Mr O'Callaghan say he was warned by both of the killers not to open his mouth or he would die.

Mr Justice Michael Peart described O'Reilly's murder as a cold, calculated and premeditated slaying.

heroin

A witness to the murder of Jonathan O'Reilly was shot dead in March 2007.

Robbie O'Hanlon, a 27-year-old criminal from Lucan, walked out of the witness box at the murder trial when John Phelan SC suggested he had deliberately driven O'Reilly to the prison to help his killers.

The barrister was "making accusations", he claimed.

"You're putting ideas in people's heads. You're bleeding brain dead," he said.

In July 1999, Kenny pleaded guilty to possession of heroin a year earlier. He and several others were given five-year suspended sentences.

The court heard he was one of a ring of milkmen who took drugs orders on their mobile phones and delivered them on their rounds.

kfoy@herald.ie


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