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Monday 20 November 2017

'I can relax now', says mum after son's killer banned from town

Patricia Conroy says she is glad she is the mother of victim Darragh rather than killer Darren Goodwin
Patricia Conroy says she is glad she is the mother of victim Darragh rather than killer Darren Goodwin

A mother whose only child was beaten to death with a hammer 14 years ago has said she is glad his killer is no longer allowed in the town where she visits her son's grave.

Darragh Conroy was just 14 when he was attacked by 15-year-old Darren Goodwin in a field near his home in Mountmellick, Co Laois, in 2003.

Goodwin, formerly of Graigue, Mountmellick, was released last year after a review of psychiatric reports carried out while he was in prison.

At a hearing in the Central Criminal Court last week, Goodwin told Justice Patrick McCarthy that he will not travel within an 8km zone centred on Mountmellick town unless he is given verbal permission by the probation services.

Goodwin's barrister told the court that the killer's parents live near Mountmellick and so he may wish to visit their home on occasion.

Darragh's mother Patricia was in court to hear the ruling.

"It's the first time I had seen him since his release last year, which was difficult," she told the Herald.

"I don't live in Mountmellick anymore but I visit Darragh's grave there and I am in the town three or four times a week.

"Since Darren Goodwin got out last year I have been afraid I would meet him on the street.

"It would be in the back of your mind. Relatives of mine have seen him.

"At least now I can relax a bit and not be nervous that I would see him. It's a good decision."

Before Goodwin's release last year, Patricia told the Herald that he had never shown any remorse.

At sentencing, Mr Justice Barry White used his discretion in imposing a life sentence after hearing all the details, including that Goodwin had "wanted to kill someone".

The judge described Goodwin as "brutal, vicious and callous".

State pathologist Marie Cassidy said that Darragh's skull "had been broken up and was like a jigsaw, with some of the pieces fallen out of the wounds".

The prosecution case rested on the evidence of several friends of Goodwin, who testified he had been talking about killing someone the week before and had admitted to the murder on the night in question.

Kill

One classmate gave evidence that Goodwin had said: "Jesus, I'd love to kill someone, someone that nobody cared about, like Darragh Conroy."

Patricia said there is not a day that goes by that she doesn't think about Darragh or cry over him.

"My hopes, rather than my expectations, were that Darren Goodwin would get a sentence to reflect his crime," she said.

"He hit Darragh once with a hammer from behind and then five times more as he lay on the ground. This was a sustained attack.

"Goodwin never appeared to be in any way sorry or remorseful, not even for show. There was no sign of remorse in court in July 2004, and no sign of remorse at the sentence review hearing in 2014.

"It has changed me so much. Nothing could hurt me as much as losing him.

"He was funny and smart, but I'm glad I'm Darragh's mother and not Darren Goodwin's."

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