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Ireland'Where is the justice? He took her life' - family of murdered mum outraged at killer's prison leave to visit grave

15:25  13 september  2019
15:25  13 september  2019 Source:   independent.ie

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The family of murdered mother-of-three Olivia Dunlea (36) who was stabbed six times and left to die in her burning home have expressed outrage at her killer receiving Olivia' s family now expressing outrage at killer receiving compassionate release from prison to visit a relative' s grave .

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'Where is the justice? He took her life' - family of murdered mum outraged at killer's prison leave to visit grave Olivia Dunlea, inset the scene of the crime

The family of murdered mother-of-three Olivia Dunlea (36) who was stabbed six times and left to die in her burning home have expressed outrage at her killer receiving compassionate release from prison to visit a relative's grave.

Darren Murphy (42) was jailed for life last year after being convicted of Ms Dunlea's murder - but the victim's family said they were appalled to discover the killer was being given temporary compassionate release from Cork Prison despite being just over a year into his sentence.

Murphy has been almost six years in custody as he went through three different trial processes for legal reasons.

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Olivia's sister, Ann, said her family were in total shock over the development.

"It is very upsetting - we just cannot believe it. The shock and the anger we feel is unreal," she told the Neil Prendeville Show on RedFM.

"We were contacted last weekend to say he was being given compassionate to visit the grave of a relative in Passage West.

'Where is the justice? He took her life' - family of murdered mum outraged at killer's prison leave to visit grave Murdered: Olivia Dunlea, from Passage West, Co Cork. Photo: Provision "The only deaths we know of were his parents - one died at the beginning of the last trial. Before that, another one had passed away.

"They (Irish Prison Service) let us know he was getting compassionate leave and we contacted them back saying we were not one bit happy. We were actually disgusted.

"The word that upset us most was compassionate. Where was the compassion shown to Olivia when she was brutally murdered."

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An IPS official confirmed the visit which will involve an escorted trip to the graveyard.

It was sanctioned under longstanding regulations to allow inmates temporary release for escorted visits in compassionate circumstances.

"We knew nothing about it but, as you can imagine, we are horrified," Ann said.

"Where is the justice? He took her life - he took her from her three young children but he has entitlements? Where was the compassion for her?"

'Where is the justice? He took her life' - family of murdered mum outraged at killer's prison leave to visit grave Olivia Dunlea’s mother Ann (centre) with her sisters Anne (left) and Amanda. Photo: Michael MacSweeney/Provision Ms Dunlea had to be identified from dental records.

"We got no goodbyes - we got to say goodbye to Olivia by looking at a framed photo of her on her coffin.

"All he did from the very beginning was lie.

"I was outside the house that night and he was there crying, crying crocodile tears. And then to put us through the agony of three trials?

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"He has appealed the last trial and we are in limbo again. Then he has the cheek to apply for compassionate release?

"There is no justice in this country. I would love to sit down with the Minister for Justice and talk about this and what families go through.

"Olivia got absolutely no justice. We are worried for her children and what they have to go through. They live every single day without their mother because of him.

"No one ever knocked on their door to say what their rights are.

"They lost every single thing that night - their mother and every possession they had."

Ann said the family remain appalled that, having stabbed Olivia and set fire to her house, Murphy went to his own home, hid his clothing under decking and went to bed awaiting the phone call from the emergency services.

In June 2018, Darren Murphy was handed a mandatory life sentence.

'Where is the justice? He took her life' - family of murdered mum outraged at killer's prison leave to visit grave Wreaths outside Olivia Dunlea O'Brien's house in Passage West Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision Murphy (41) of Dan Desmond Villas, Passage West, Cork was convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury of the murder of Ms Dunlea.

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Murphy had admitted the manslaughter but denied the murder of the mother of three whose stabbed body was found in her burning home at Pembroke Crescent, Passage West, Cork on February 17 2013.

Ms Dunlea, who had only been dating the defendant for eight weeks before her 2013 death, had been stabbed six times but the young mother was still alive when her home was set on fire by Murphy.

Cork Fire Brigade members later recovered her badly burned body in an upstairs bedroom and she had to be identified from dental records.

She died just one week before her 37th birthday. Ms Dunlea's three young children were not in the property that evening.

Her mother, Ann, and sister, Ann, described as "a total nightmare" what the family have endured over the past six years with Murphy standing trial three times before being convicted of murder and handed a life sentence.

The family said that while they were relieved to see Murphy convicted at the third attempt, nothing will bring Olivia back.

"I was happy and sad," her mother said.

"At the end of the day, Olivia is still lost to us - we had to go through all of this?

"Five years - but we are happy with the verdict.

"But what is life (imprisonment?) Personally, I think the key should be thrown away - he should never come out again. He is a danger to society.

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"Our lives have been standing still for the past five years.

"We have gone through trial after trial but, thank God, we got a good outcome in the end. But we are still without Olivia.

"She was our best friend - we were so close and we are totally heartbroken without her. She was always there for us - we got the life sentence. He got a prison term.

"Olivia was lovely - she was so warm hearted," her mother stressed.

"She was family orientated - her children were her world. They loved her so much."

Olivia's sister said they were heartbroken by the appalling fate Olivia met.

"She was a pre-school teacher - Olivia was absolutely brilliant. Her door was always open to help anyone.

"She was a daughter, a mother, an aunt, a sister and a great friend."

Murphy's manslaughter plea was rejected by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).

State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy found Ms Dunlea had been stabbed six times, suffering four shallow wounds to the front of her neck and two wounds behind her ear.

One of the wounds to the back of the neck was so deep it penetrated Ms Dunlea's spinal canal.

"It could be fatal but most likely would not deliver a rapid death," prosecutor Tom Creed SC told the murder trial.

Mr Creed said Dr Cassidy, from an examination of Ms Dunlea's trachea, determined that she was still alive when the fire in her bedroom was started.

"It would appear she was still alive when the fire started.

"Her (Dr Cassidy's) opinion is that Ms Dunlea was incapacitated by the knife wound to the back of her neck."

Ms Dunlea was found lying face down on the bed having apparently made no attempt to escape the fire.

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The quilt on the bed had been set alight.

Fire brigade officials found two seats for the fire - one on the bed in which Ms Dunlea was found and one on a downstairs kitchen table.

Ms Dunlea and the defendant, who were in a relationship for between six and eight weeks, had been out socialising in the Rochestown Inn not far from Ms Dunlea's home.

'Where is the justice? He took her life' - family of murdered mum outraged at killer's prison leave to visit grave Gardai investigating inside Olivia Dunlea O'Brien's house in Passage West Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision They got a taxi back to her Pembroke Crescent home shortly after midnight.

However, when neighbours spotted a fire at Ms Dunlea's home a short time later and Ms Dunlea's friends became concerned, Murphy was at his own home.

He drove to Ms Dunlea's house and was shouting and sobbing on the street outside.

Murphy tried at one point to rush past fire brigade officials to get into the house.

He also kept shouting: "This is my girlfriend's house."

Murphy also kept repeatedly trying to ring Ms Dunlea's mobile phone, explaining he wanted to determine where she was.

When he was being interviewed by Gardaí later that day, he paused the interview to keep trying to ring Ms Dunlea.

Murphy told Gardaí he had had a row with Ms Dunlea after they had left the pub and had gone home, leaving her at her door with her keys in her hand.

He also voluntarily gave Gardaí two sets of clothing that he said he had been wearing that night.

However, when a Garda checked the CCTV security camera footage from the pub, it was found not to match what Murphy had been wearing when out with Ms Dunlea.

Gardaí arrived at Murphy's home with a search warrant and the defendant became emotional.

He said he had made a mistake and given Gardaí the wrong clothing - the correct clothing having been placed under decking at his home before being put into the attic.

Mr Creed said Murphy then told Gardaí: "I just snapped."

He said "a massive row" had erupted between himself and Ms Dunlea and, having snapped, he grabbed a knife in the bedroom and stabbed her.

"He said he snapped, grabbed a knife by the bed and stabbed Olivia two times in the neck with it."

Mr Creed said Murphy then told Gardaí he set the quilt alight with Ms Dunlea's cigarette lighter.

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