herald

Tuesday 26 September 2017

'Every woman should be given a photo of man who killed our Jill', say family

Murdered teenager Jill Bishop
Murdered teenager Jill Bishop

The family of a young woman murdered in 1991 have reacted with anger at being told by text that her killer was due for release only 24 hours before he walked free for jail.

Jill Bishop was only 18 when she was murdered by Michael McLaughlin as she walked home from a Halloween disco after a night out with her younger sister, Karen, and some friends.

Her naked body was found the next day by a boy looking for a football that had gone over the wall of a garden of a house near the seafront in Bray.

McLaughlin, who was 23 at the time, had beaten her to death and forced a £1 coin down her throat.

Remorse

He showed no remorse when he appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to murder.

He was recently released from Mountjoy Prison after serving more than 25 years.

Although Jill's family knew he had been on temporary release and was nearing the end of his sentence, they expected to be told in person when his full release would be granted.

"My dad got a text just the day before his release," said Karen. "We expected more from a state department than that.

"How can you just send a text to someone saying the man who killed your daughter is getting out of jail the next day?"

The text, which was brief and to the point, said: "As previously discussed at end of May, Michael McLaughlin will be going on weekly review- able temporary release from tomorrow afternoon with conditions attached under the supervision of the Probation Service.

"Condition of not entering Bray remains as one of his conditions. Feel free to call me if you have any further questions."

Karen said: "We don't have Jill in our lives, yet he is still relatively young. He can still have a long life ahead of him."

The Bishops said that when McLaughlin was in jail and when he was on temporary release, they always knew where he was.

"When he was behind bars we felt safe," said Karen.

"When he was out we could avoid him because we knew where he was going, but now we don't know where he is.

"He could be standing in front of us and we wouldn't know.

"He knows what we look like, and even though he has been ordered not to come near Bray, who's going to police that? What gardai in Bray know what he looks like?

"I think we should be shown a recent photo of him so we know what he looks like.

"I think everyone in Ireland should know what McLaughlin looks like now in case they meet him and don't know what he's capable of doing.

"He could strike up a conversation with any woman now. If they knew who he was they could walk away.

"To us, as a family, it seems the perpetrator is more protected than the family of the person they killed.

"He didn't only take Jill's life, he took my life too, and all our lives, yet he gets to move on with his. We don't get that."

Jill was all excited as she got dressed up to go to a local disco on Halloween night 26 years ago, shunning the opportunity to go into the city centre with other friends because she felt safe nearer home.

She worked part-time in the RDS in Ballsbridge and had returned home to Corke Abbey in Bray early on Halloween night.

Having suffered ill health, she was looking forward to her night out and brought 16-year-old sister Karen with her to the Bray Head Hotel with a cousin and some friends.

She put in her new contact lenses and borrowed £10 from her father, Ciaran.

Hugged

She hugged him and her mother, May, before she left the house with her sister.

At the disco, Jill met a young man and got on well with him. At the end of the night the group walked home. Karen and her pals walked ahead.

Karen arrived home at 3.30am but, two hours later, there was still no sign of Jill.

"I knew she was dead," Jill's mother told the Herald from her Bray home.

"I said to Ciaran, 'She's dead, she's in a heap somewhere'."

The man Jill had met was McLaughlin.

The Bishops praised gardai for the work they did on the case to bring him to justice, especially John O'Mahony, who is now Assistant Commissioner.

"He visits us every Christmas since the murder," said Karen.

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