Saturday 18 November 2017

I still put flowers on Patricia's grave - killer's sister speaks of torment

Martina has spoken to the Herald of the damage that her brother Sean Courtney did to her family after he murdered Patricia O'Toole after she stopped him asking for directions
Martina has spoken to the Herald of the damage that her brother Sean Courtney did to her family after he murdered Patricia O'Toole after she stopped him asking for directions
Patricia O'Toole
Sean Courtney who was jailed for the murder of Patricia O Toole

The sister of the man who murdered Patricia O'Toole nearly 24 years ago has said her brother's actions tore her family apart.

Soldier Sean Courtney was convicted of battering Patricia O'Toole to death in the Dublin Mountains in 1991.

His sister Martina Courtney said through visiting her criminal brother she met serial killer Mark Nash.

Speaking exclusively to the Herald yesterday, Martina opened up on her relationship with Mark Nash and revealed how is now Nash's next of kin, receives daily phonecalls from him and said she will never give up on him.

It was Sean who recommended that Martina get involved in Alternatives to Violence Programmes (AVPs) that he had found useful behind bars.

"It was through the AVP that I met Mark. Maybe I wouldn't be in this situation if Sean hadn't have done what he done," Martina said.

"Mark and Sean never got on. I'd say Sean regrets introducing me to the AVP course which introduced me to Mark," she added,

"I'd say he regrets it 110pc."

Martina said that the Courtney family were torn apart when Sean was arrested and subsequently convicted for the brutal murder of Patricia O'Toole.

"I'll never forget it. It was horrific. We hadn't got a clue. Everyone was talking about it because there were much fewer murders at that time," Martina said.

"I was telling my mother 'Someone has to know who it is, he had to be covered in blood at that hour of the morning'," Martina said.

"Then my mother rang me and said to come home. I thought my father was dead, that was my first reaction.

"Then she said 'No, it's worse than that. The girl from Killiney, Sean killed her'," she added.

"I went up and she was sitting in a chair. She was like an old woman. My father was walking up and down and he walked straight through the patio doors. So I had to run to James's with my father, and then to the courts to see Sean.

"It ripped the family apart. The mother and father I knew and grew up with died that day. They never got over it.

"Mam always blames herself and I don't talk to Sean (now) because of that. He's done his time and I don't wish him harm, we just don't talk."

More than 20 years after the murder, Martina still pays tribute to Patricia on the anniversary of her death.

"I go up to her grave and I leave a flower up there," she said.

"Me and Sean were reared the same. We got everything. The only thing my mam and dad were ever guilty of was spoiling me and Sean."

Throughout the trial Sean Courtney claimed he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and was insane when he murdered Patricia (31) after she gave him a lift when she stopped to ask for directions. Gardai believed his intention was to rape Patricia and then kill her.


State Pathologist Dr John Harbison gave evidence that there were 18 injuries to her head and neck, her nose had been flattened and upper jaw fractured. The injuries were consistent with being struck by an eight-inch by four-inch brick.

Asked did Sean ever give answers as to why killed Patricia, Martina thought for a moment.

"He says he did it. There was never any real answers," she said. "I think it was all down to panic.

"I sometimes wonder what triggered it. Because good people do bad things. But you'd wonder what starts it off.

"The one lesson I learned with Sean is you can't afford to throw stones. You cannot afford to judge.

"I forgive Sean for what he did to Patricia, not that I have the right to forgive him - that's up to Patricia's family. But I don't forgive him for his attitude to my mother. That's just siblings maybe. He's still my brother and I love him, but we just don't get on."

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