herald

Saturday 26 May 2018

'At last we know what Jill's killer looks like', say distraught family

Murderer Michael McLaughlin
Murderer Michael McLaughlin

The family of a teenage girl murdered 27 years ago are relieved to know what her killer looks like, now after a news- paper published his picture.

Jill Bishop was only 18 when she was killed in 1991 by Michael McLaughlin as she walked home from a Halloween disco with her younger sister, Karen, and friends.

"He's an evil man and it's good that this photo is out there now," said Karen, "especially when he's using public transport and moving around freely."

She was speaking after a photo of McLaughlin appeared in the Sunday World.

Jill's naked body was found the day after the disco by a local boy retrieving a football that had gone over the wall of a garden near the seafront in Bray, Co Wicklow.

McLaughlin had beaten her to death and forced a £1 coin down her throat.

He showed no remorse and pleaded not guilty when charged with murder. He was released last July after serving a life sentence.

However, Jill's family had to wait until last week to find out what he now looks like.

Previous attempts to obtain a photo from gardai and prison authorities had failed.

"We were afraid he could be standing beside us in the street, or sitting beside us on a bus," said Karen.

"He's banned from Bray, but how do we know whether he's sticking to that if we don't know what he looks like?"

The photo in the Sunday World shows McLaughlin leaving his post-prison accommodation and making his way across Dublin.

"We tried all sorts of ways to get this picture, but we were told we couldn't have it under the terms of the Data Protection Act," said Karen.

Wary

"We now know what he looks like, thanks to the media - and other people can know what he looks like and be wary of him.

"Seeing the picture is a shock. It brings it all back. You find yourself staring at a photo and asking questions like 'How could you?' and 'Why?', but of course the photo doesn't answer back.

"It was tough when we were looking for a photo and couldn't get one.

"It seemed like McLaughlin was the one being protected. We felt let down by the gardai and authorities."

Jill's father, Ciaran, said gardai in Bray did not even have a photo of McLaughlin.

"The Data Protection Act is being used to shield the man who killed my daughter, while no regard whatsoever is being shown to us as Jill's family," he said.

"It's all to do with protecting the perpetrator."

Jill's mother, May, described the pain of losing her daughter.

"I have slept two hours a night for the last 27 years, and that's the Gospel truth," she said

"McLaughlin was 23 when he killed my Jill and now he's back on the streets, still a relatively young man at 50."

Ciaran said the Justice Minister needs to review the way families of victims are treated.

"They should be at the centre of things when someone like McLaughlin is released," he said.

"They should be given a file with details of how the offender behaved in prison, the reasons for release, details of where they are staying and a current image.

"The Minister for Justice needs to change the law to put the families first."

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