'Tougher sentence would have saved Nicola'

Sinead Kelleher

The heart-broken family of murdered Tralee woman Nicola Collins have called for tougher sentencing after it emerged that her killer had got a suspended sentence for a violent assault on another woman.

For the past four weeks the family have sat through a lengthy and distressing trial but last Thursday they say justice prevailed and Mr O'Sullivan was sentenced to life for the murder of Nicola on March 27, 2017 at his Popham's Road flat in Cork.  

Seconds after the Central Criminal Court trial received the unanimous guilty verdict from the jury of nine men and three women, it emerged that Mr O'Sullivan had received a three-year suspended sentence in 2013 before Cork Circuit Criminal Court for a violent assault on another woman. The young woman, despite liver, kidney and head injuries, had survived. A few years later, Nicola was dead at the hands of Mr O'Sullivan. 

"Nicola's death might not have happened if he got a sentence," said her mother, Kay Collins who lives in St Brendan's Park in Tralee. Nicola grew up in the town and went to Balloonagh primary and secondary school. She was living in Cork in recent years. 

"Mr O'Sullivan was a in a bad place at the time of the other assault and he nearly killed a woman. Her injuries were a carbon copy of Nicola's except Nicola's injuries killed her," said Kay. 

"Tougher sentencing would have saved Nicola. He would not have been out to do what he did."

Kay say that "her heart is broken" at the loss of her daughter "who will never fulfil her potential" because Mr O'Sullivan took her life. 

The family said that they were disappointed at the portrayal of Nicola throughout the trial, and they said that it did not do the justice to the  wonderful daughter and sister that Nicola was. 

She said to the trial was "traumatic". 

"He said things about Nicola, and we had to sit there and listen to them," she said. 

"That man was evil. He sat there and showed no remorse to us. That was the hardest thing." Kay can still recall the day her daughter was born weighing just 3 pounds 12 ounces. In 2017, she lost her forever. 

"Two detectives arrived at the door to tell me my daughter was murdered."

"She was a wonderful daughter who visited regularly and loved music," said Kay. 

"She always sent me flowers  on Mother's day and the day she died was mother's day too."

Mr O'Sullivan's sentence is a relief to the family. 

"When I walked into that room all I wanted was for justice to prevail but we had doubts especially the way he portrayed Nicola so there was a great sense of relief when he was found guilty." 

Mr O'Sullivan of Popham's Road, Farranree, Cork and formerly of  Charleville, Co Cork remained emotionless as the verdict was returned and Ms Justice Creedon imposed the mandatory life sentence. 

Mrs Collins thanked everyone who had supported the family through the ordeal and especially Detective Paul Colgan for his compassion, and her partner, Michael, for his support.