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"He heard her body crash off the rocks. Yet he walked away" - court hears statement of slain woman's sister

Helen Geoghegan described the impact the death of Deirdre McCarthy in 2011 had on her family.

dee Deirdre McCarthy

THE GRIEVING SISTER of a woman whose body was dumped in the ocean by her killer broke down and wept in court today as she told how her family will be “haunted forever” by the death.

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

Colm Deely (45), of Ballyvaughan, Co Clare, has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of 43-year-old McCarthy, at a place unknown on or about 28 March 2011.

His plea was accepted by the State at a previous hearing.

Reading a victim-impact statement on behalf of the family, McCarthy’s sister Helen Geoghegan told the Central Criminal Court: “Dee was a kind, easy-going person who lived a very, happy ordinary life.”

“There was no fuss from Dee,” she said. “Only at Christmas, and her birthday, her favourite times in the year. Dee made time for everyone.”

Describing the effect her killing had on the family, Geoghegan said: “There are so many lives impacted by this terrible crime. To us she was a daughter, a sister, an aunt. She loved nothing more than spending time with her family and friends, her nieces and nephews whom she adored. We all miss her so much and it is still so hard for us to understand what happened to her on that night. Sadly we never will.”

Geoghegan also revealed that their mother “died of a broken heart as she never recovered from what happened to Dee”.

And she described the family’s anguish over the death, saying “sleepless nights are now part of our daily lives”.

It is almost six years since Dee’s life was taken from us in such a horrific way. It terrifies us to think of what she went through. How frightened she must have been, as she was beaten and strangled to death and her body dumped in such a cold and heartless way. He (Deely) said that he could hear her body crash off the rocks and falling into the ocean. Yet he walked away.

“Dee’s death,” she added, “destroyed us all inside. It has broken our hearts. In our darker moments, we can’t help but relive what happened to her that night. This will haunt us forever.”

She did not deserve to die. She did not deserve to have her life taken so brutally and her body thrown into the ocean.

Geoghegan also said that her family’s grief was compounded by the fact that Deely had gone to work alongside McCarthy’s brother hours after killing her and disposing of the body.

She said: “In the following days he carried on with his life as normal. In fact, the very next day he went to work with our brother Thomas and asked him was Deirdre at home with our mother.

At this time, Thomas hadn’t realised that Dee was missing. This baffles us. How could he not show any remorse, knowing what he had done?

Earlier, Garda Superintendent John Galvin told prosecution counsel Paul Greene SC that four days before McCarthy’s body washed up on Fanore Beach she had spent the evening socialising with friends.

Galvin said that Deely had been part of the group the deceased was drinking with in Logues public house in nearby Ballyvaughan and the pair had been “observed on CCTV chatting to one another”.

He said that the accused and McCarthy had known each other since childhood and although they left the pub separately that evening, they had agreed to meet later that night at the guesthouse where McCarthy lived and worked.

Days later, the garda said, Deely admitted to officers that he killed McCarthy before driving her “body to a coastal area near Ballyvaughan” where he “put her body in the sea”.

The court was told that the cause of death was “manual strangulation”.

Defence counsel Sean Gillane SC told the court that his client “accepts that on this night he caused her death” in an “explosion of violence” by “using his hands on her neck”.

He said Deely had worked as a plant-hire operator, had been an active member of the Ballyvaughan community and that his family had “deep roots” in the area.

After being told that Deely had previously been convicted of McCarthy’s murder but that conviction had been quashed, Justice Patrick McCarthy asked if this was because “serious questions arose over evidence that wasn’t considered sufficiently reliable for the prosecution?”

Greene replied that that was the case.

Justice McCarthy remanded Deely in custody and adjourned sentencing until 20 March.

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Peter Doyle

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