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Image / Editorial

Siobhan Kearney murder: ‘People have suggested I move on. But I can’t. You cannot be expected to forget a life force’


by Amanda Cassidy
05th Dec 2020
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“He strangled my sister. He tried to disguise it as a suicide. He did it in the middle of the night in the place she felt safest. He is pure evil and is beyond redemption.”


“Throttled and garotted.”

Brighid McLaughlin’s voice breaks as she discussed her sister’s murderer on the Pat Kenny show on Newstalk last year. 38-year-old Siobhan died in 2006 at the hand of her husband Brian in the family’s home at Carnroe, Knocknashee, Goatstown, Dublin.

Kearney used a vacuum cleaner wire to strangle his wife before trying to pull her body over the en-suite door in her bedroom in an attempt to make it look like a suicide. The pathologist described her as being ‘throttled and garotted.’

Image: McLaughlin family

Now, over a year and a half later, Brighid has started writing again for the Irish Independent, finding her voice once more. “Her death has affected three generations of the McLaughlins,” she writes.

“Today, three perfectly aligned rows of white hyacinths run down the gentle slope of the grave, which looks out to the Irish Sea. My son Johnny finds two empty plastic bottles of Ballygowan in a bin and fills them with water.

We face the grave, her name in stone. People have suggested I move on, that it’s what she would have wanted. But no, I can’t. You cannot be expected to forget a life force. Which she was. A beacon of wit, humour and kindness. I keep hearing her voice”

Horror

“Kearney left the couple’s three-year-old son wandering in the house alone.”

Last year Brighid spoke out of her horror at the decision of the parole board to recommend Brian Kearney be considered for “neutral venue visits” with his family.

She believes that this would involve him having supervised visits in areas outside of prison which means she could technically face a situation where she spots him in some Dublin hotel having a coffee in the lobby.

The Board denied Kearney parole for a second time as he serves a life sentence for the murder of Siobhan. The reasoning behind the visits with relatives outside of prison is to ‘aid re-socialisation and reintegration.’

Parole

Brighid says the family’s nightmare will never end. “This whole murder has claimed us entirely. She was my best friend. Everything I am in life is defined by her absence”.

The case received widespread coverage at the time. Kearney left the couple’s three-year-old son wandering in the house alone. He was later found by relatives when they couldn’t get in touch with their sister. It was Siobhan’s father who broke into the bedroom and found his daughter’s lifeless body.

In court, it emerged that Siobhán was considering getting a divorce from her husband. It was the prosecution’s case that Brian murdered her rather than face the financial implications of separating.

But although the nightmare can never be erased, Siobhan’ssister now wants to try to focus on moving forward in a new way.

Bridhgid writes beautifully in her new article about how she told Siobhan, by her graveside, that she was going to start writing again.

“I want to tell you that I’m still painting, but I’m going start writing again. Happy stories. I’m going to write a column about life, about the things we loved.

Food, craic, the countryside, rural stories, the people who live simple lives in a humble and extraordinary way. Real things. Magical things.”

Related:

Why are we obsessed with true crime but also about women being murdered More

How financial abuse affects women in Ireland More

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