'Get out before it's too late' - sister of murdered mum Anna warns domestic violence victims
Lisa Finnegan speaks to Laura Lynott about the ‘animal’ who entrapped her sister in a decade of violence before finally stabbing her to death
The sister of murdered mum Anna Finnegan is urging victims of domestic violence to leave their partners at the first sign of trouble.
Mum-of-two Anna was brutally stabbed to death by her former partner, Vesel Jahiri, on September 21, 2012, after years of abuse.
Her sister, Lisa, has now revealed that she asked Anna why she had not left Jahiri on the eve of the murder.
Anna replied that she could not desert him because of the "guilt and shame".
Lisa - who has supplied the Herald with the last picture taken of her sister - said Anna's devastated children are now beginning to ask what happened to their beloved mother on that fateful day five years ago.
Anna was just 25 when she was murdered by Jahiri (35), the man who should have loved and protected her.
He began preying on her when she was just 15 and grieving the loss of her beloved father, entrapping her in a decade of spiralling domestic abuse.
Jahiri was given a life sentence in May for the killing that robbed two young children of their doting mother.
"Anna adored her two kids," said Lisa. "She was an amazing mum.
"She wasn't maternal when she was growing up but being a mother was the most natural thing for Anna and it was lovely to see her blossoming into motherhood.
"Her son and daughter are gorgeous, amazing and they look just like Anna. They're being cared for by family and they're adored.
"But they have just started asking questions. The girl is seven and the boy is six."
Anna's daughter was only two when her mother died and her son was just a baby.
"They call their mother Angel Anna and even though her daughter is so young, I believe she's held Anna in her heart all this time."
One of the most disturbing details behind Anna's murder is the fact that Jahiri had been abusing her mentally and physically behind closed doors for several years.
He had cut her off from most of her family and friends, isolating her to maximise his power over her.
"I found out Anna was being abused only three months before she was murdered," said Lisa.
"Jahiri had been able to pull her away from her family and most of her friends for so long that we just didn't get to see what was going on.
"We never saw them in the same room together."
Lisa said she found out "by accident" that her sister was a victim of domestic violence when Jahiri rang her just months before the murder and began hurling insults.
"I called Anna and told her the horrible language he'd used and asked what was going on," said Lisa.
"Anna admitted he was after hitting her. I couldn't believe it. She came up to me later that night and told me more about the abuse.
"Slowly, in the next few days, she revealed more and more and I told her straight that she had to leave him. She was beginning that process, but I know now, that animal was never going to let her go. He was obsessed.
"Only in death has Anna found peace away from that evil man, that psychopath."
Jahiri pleaded not guilty to murder. He also pleaded not guilty to assaulting Anna's brother, Karl.
But the Central Criminal Court jury found him guilty on both counts.
In September 2012, Jahiri kicked down the door of the house in Clonsilla where Anna had been living with Karl.
In the moments that followed, he stabbed them both.
Tragically, as Anna lay dying in hospital, she identified Jahiri as her killer, saying, "He did it".
Anna had signed herself into a women's refuge a month before her murder in an attempt to restart her life, but Jahiri was not going to let her go.
Lisa said she has one thing to "hang on to", the fact that her sister had "found happiness" at the end of her life.
"Anna had met a very handsome man on Facebook a month-and-a-half before she died," said Lisa.
"I think this man could have been the one for her. He lived in Navan and I knew he went to the same cafe as my family. I often wished I'd bump into him after her death, but I never did.
"I kept thinking he must've been distraught after her murder, heartbroken, but he couldn't speak to us and I wanted to speak to him.
"I wanted to tell him what he meant to her - and he may have been able to tell me things I didn't know about Anna."
When the young Anna first met Jahiri, he was working in a fast food outlet in Blanchardstown. He was 21 and she chatted to him as she and her school friends ordered chips.
Not long after they'd met, Anna's father, Billy (69), died of a heart attack. He had been the main influence in her life and had warned her off Jahiri.
Six years later, Anna's mother, Maria (61), died, leaving the young woman without any parents.
"Dad really was bothered by Jahiri because she was only 15 and he was 21," said Lisa. "He wasn't happy at all about him.
"Dad was the one who Anna listened to. When he was gone, it was a case of Jahiri saying, 'Your dad's gone, so lean on me'.
"It got to the point where he made sure she needed him.
"By the time he'd got his clutches into Anna, mam was ill, too. Poor Anna was so young, she didn't know how to react.
"Dad was only dead four weeks, the first time Jahiri hit Anna. She was only a child.
"Mam died of a broken heart. She'd been lost without dad. He was her best friend. Mam never knew what was happening to Anna.
"She hated wife-beaters. She even sat my two brothers down to warn them that if they ever hit a woman, not to look for help from her.
A month before her death, Anna spent time in a women's shelter when she left Jahiri and it was somewhere where she felt safe and was treated "wonderfully", said Lisa.
The night before she was stabbed to death, she spent her evening making plans for her future in Lisa's house.
"She said to me 'I can't believe I have my whole life ahead of me', she felt free of him.
"I asked her why did she stay the night before she was murdered and she said there were so many reasons, the shame, the guilt, feeling stupid, that people would laugh, talk about her, the fear of telling her family.
"All that had overwhelmed her, when in reality, no one would have judged her.
"Everyone would have been there to support her but he'd got inside her head, cut her off from all her friends, her family.
"Jahiri never brought her out anywhere, never got her a present for her birthday or Christmas. He used to pull up outside a shop and get her to go in and get herself a card and flowers.
"The day she went to give birth to her son, he never said goodbye to her. She said, 'See you, then', and he never responded.
"I asked, 'Why do you put up with that?' She didn't say anything. I could see he was starting to hate me.
"When his daughter was born, he came in to see her for a moment. But he left the hospital straight after he saw her and I again asked what was going on.
"I wish I'd known more, to have been able to speak up more when Anna had told me she was engaged and when she was pregnant the first time.
"She didn't seem happy, so I couldn't understand why she'd got engaged to him, but I had no idea about the abuse.
"He'd call her names, tell her she was ugly when she was anything but ugly. He'd ridicule her. When she tried to leave him once he phoned her up and said when she returned she'd be visiting a grave.
"I want to be an advocate for other women, to tell them that the very first time alarm bells ring, that's your warning to leave. That moment when you think, 'He shouldn't have said that, or he shouldn't have hurt me', that's the time you go.
"Anna's children are a reminder of the innocents left behind. Look at what happened to Anna and never stay. Listen to yourself and leave before it's too late."
If you've been affected by domestic violence contact Women's Aid on 1800 341 900