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Saturday 1 October 2016

A couple against the world but now set apart just days before first anniversary

Dave and Audrey Mahon on the way to court prior to his conviction (Collins Dublin)
Dave and Audrey Mahon on the way to court prior to his conviction (Collins Dublin)

Audrey Mahon and her killer husband Dave's first wedding anniversary takes place next Thursday, but the couple won't be spending it together.

Instead, Audrey is expected to visit her husband today in Cloverhill Prison, where he is in custody following his conviction for the manslaughter of her son.

The couple will now be anxiously waiting to see what will happen to Mahon after he was found guilty of stabbing Audrey's 23-year-old son Dean Fitzpatrick to death following an argument outside the couple's apartment three years ago.

By Friday afternoon, the jury had deliberated for more than eight hours, but they returned within 15 minutes after they were told by Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan that she would accept a majority decision.

After all the waiting around for Audrey and her husband, all the cups of tea, when the decision happened it happened quickly.

Just before he entered the dock to hear his fate, Mr Mahon walked over to where Audrey was sitting. He squeezed her hand tightly, for the last time as an innocent man. Perhaps it was his way to comfort her, or maybe she was comforting him.

When the verdict was announced, Audrey looked shell-shocked.

Just after the jury returned their majority 10-2 verdict and as the media, gardai and legal professionals piled out of Courtroom No 10 in the Criminal Courts of Justice, Audrey sat alone on a bench.

What must she have been thinking? Her killer husband had just been taken away by prison officers, and he wasn't allowed to comfort her - or she him - in the courtroom.

She sat there, unsure about what to do, looking confused and close to tears. She looked very much like a woman alone.

Life hasn't been easy for Audrey Mahon over the past decade.

Stabbed

The mum of two has been through a lot - her daughter Amy Fitzpatrick has been missing since January 2008, and her son Dean was stabbed to death by the man she subsequently married. Indeed, this trial has revealed as much about Audrey as it has about her son Dean or her husband Dave.

Walking into the Criminal Courts of Justice, the couple were frequently, and touchingly, photographed linking arms or holding hands - a sign of Audrey's quiet support of her husband, who she married in May 2015, after more than a decade together.

The couple are obviously close. Indeed, Mr Mahon told gardai that he sometimes thought it was just "me and Audrey against the world".

She has been by Dave's side for the duration of the trial, as the jury of six men and six women at the Central Criminal Court decided her husband's fate.

She listened in court at her husband's claim that what happened was an accident or possibly suicide - or as Mr Mahon said to gardai during interview; "I didn't stab him, he walked into the knife."

She sat quietly in the body of the courtroom - apart from one outburst, when she tutted and stormed out of court as Mr Mahon's childhood friend, Karl O'Toole, gave evidence.

Mrs Mahon got upset when Mr O'Toole said he did not know her son Dean, apart from what he had seen in newspapers.

Ms Justice Margaret Heneghan sent the jury for an early lunch, and ordered gardai to bring Audrey back to court.

Audrey told the judge that Mr O'Toole was lying about not knowing Dean, saying he had been on holidays with them.

However, Ms Justice Heneghan warned Audrey about her behaviour, saying she would exclude her from the courtroom if she could not control herself. There wasn't another word out of Audrey.

In May 2013, when 23-year-old Dean died, Audrey and Dave Mahon had been together for 12 years. He clearly loves her, though he admitted to gardai the couple had been arguing in the weeks leading up to Mr Fitzpatrick's death, mostly about Dean and his behaviour.

Mr Mahon told gardai he didn't want Dean in the couple's Northern Cross apartment, having previously told Audrey he was "bad news" because he "smokes and sells drugs".

Asked by gardai how his partner felt about this, he told them "Audrey is his mother".

During his interviews with gardai, Mr Mahon's first thoughts were for his wife.

"I can't believe he's dead. This will kill Audrey. She took an overdose before," he told them, adding "we have to get a doctor for Audrey."

He also highlighted the stress of Amy's disappearance for the couple, telling gardai their sleeping patterns hadn't been great since she went missing.

Audrey Mahon must be a strong woman, to endure what she has. In a rare light-hearted moment during the garda interviews, Mr Mahon was asked if he had another girlfriend, in addition to Audrey.

His shocked response: "no, for f**k's sake, Audrey would kill me".

In the wake of the jury's decision that her husband killed her son, what now for Audrey Mahon? Where does she go from here? Whatever happens, one thing's for sure - she's still standing by her man's side.

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