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Man who strangled woman he was having an affair with jailed for 8 years

Deirdre McCarthy’s strangled body was found washed up on Fanore Beach, Co Clare, on 31 March 2011.

Image: GPO

A MARRIED man who strangled his lover as they “fooled around” in her bed after he claimed she threatened to tell his wife about their affair was jailed for eight years today.

Deirdre McCarthy’s body washed up on Fanore Beach, Co Clare, days after Colm Deely dumped her in the ocean.

Although he was originally convicted of McCarthy’s murder by a jury, that conviction was quashed after it emerged that the work of then Deputy State Pathologist Dr Khalid Jabbar’s was not peer reviewed.

But in January this year, Deely,  aged 45, of School Road, Ballyvaughan, Co Clare, pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of 43-year-old Ms McCarthy, at a place unknown on or about 28 March 2011.

His plea was accepted by the State at that hearing.

Today, Justice Patrick McCarthy said the sentence he was imposing was “in the absence of evidence which might have or might not have supported a more serious charge”.

Case evidence

Describing McCarthy as a “quiet, modest and vulnerable person”, Justice McCarthy said the accused subjected her to a “homicidal attack”.

The judge said the victim had been friends with Deely, a married father of two, for a number of years and that their friendship later became “romantic in nature”.

After Deely visited McCarthy at the guesthouse where she lived and worked in Ballyvaughan, Co Clare, the judge said “the next day she was not to be found” and that days later “her body washed up on the shore and that it appears she was strangled”.

The judge added that the cause of death was based on “statements made by the accused” who had admitted that “he had used his hands on her neck”.

Deely had originally been jailed for life for McCarthy’s murder following a trial in June 2013.

However, that conviction was later quashed at the request of the State when it emerged the work carried out in this case by the then deputy state pathologist Dr Khalid Jabbar had not been peer-reviewed.

Referring to Deely’s admission to manslaughter, Justice McCarthy said: “The evidence in the case would not have been sufficient to have proved murder,” adding that “one needs medical evidence in a case of unlawful killing”.

Prior to handing down the eight-year term, Justice McCarthy said the offence had been aggravated by a number of factors which included the fact that the accused had gone to work with the dead woman’s brother hours after disposing of the body.

The judge added the accused had treated the deceased’s body in a “callous manner” by dumping it in the sea.

He also said that the dead woman’s mother passed away, “having never recovered from the loss of her daughter” and that the rest of family have said they will be “haunted forever” by McCarthy’s death.

Describing Deely as a former “hard-working and respected member” of his community, he said the starting point for sentencing would have been 12 years, adding that Deely must serve a “substantial period of imprisonment” for killing McCarthy.

However, in imposing an eight-year term, the judge said he was taking into account the accused’s early guilty plea to manslaughter and the fact he had “shown contrition” over the killing.

Read: ‘He heard her body crash off the rocks. Yet he walked away’ – court hears statement of slain woman’s sister

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Peter Doyle

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