herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Chief suspect in brutal murder may walk free from jail

PACEMAKER BELFAST 02/08/2015
Jennifer Dornan who died in a house fire at Hazel View in the Lagmore area on the outskirts of west Belfast on the early hours of sunday morning.
Pic Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 02/08/2015 Jennifer Dornan who died in a house fire at Hazel View in the Lagmore area on the outskirts of west Belfast on the early hours of sunday morning. Pic Pacemaker Press

The chief suspect in the savage murder of a young mum is set to walk free from prison in just three weeks as police in the North are desperately awaiting a decision to charge the man.

A career criminal with more than 80 previous convictions is suspected of direct involvement in the shocking murder of mum-of-three Jennifer Dornan (30). Her body was found in the burnt-out remains of her Belfast home.

The murder suspect is now in the closing stages of a prison sentence here for a serious criminal offence, but no European Arrest Warrant has been issued for his arrest.

That means he would be free to leave the country when his sentence expires.

"A file is currently with the PPS, and the PSNI are awaiting their decision," a PSNI spokeswoman told the Herald last night.

The PPS is the Public Prosecution Service, the North's equivalent of our Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Young mother Ms Dornan was found stabbed to death in her house in Hazel View in the Lagmore area of west Belfast on August 2, 2015.

Evidence

Officers believe the killer set fire to the property in a bid to destroy evidence.

The mother of two boys and a girl, all aged under nine, was stabbed to death with a 14-inch kitchen knife.

A legal bid to transfer a suspect can only be made once a police file has been submitted to, and reviewed by, the PPS - a process that can take months.

It is understood Ms Dornan's family have been made aware of the potential delays ahead.

Two other people have previously been arrested on suspicion of withholding evidence.

However, it is understood that the man jailed in the Midlands Prison is the only suspect in this case.

The murder and burning of the house was remarked upon at the young mum's funeral.

"Whoever did this to Jennifer has turned her death, which was cold-hearted and callous already, into something that was wicked and obscene," parish priest Fr Martin Graham told the mourners.

"A family home has been destroyed as her family's hearts have been torn apart," he added.

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