Friday 21 September 2018

Mum reveals her premonition of Tracey's killing

A MOTHER whose daughter was kicked to death outside a Dublin hospital had a strange "premonition" of her death.

Linda O'Brien said she felt a sharp pain in her head around the time her daughter Tracey was being assaulted by a man and a woman several miles away.

"I was at work when I got a sharp pain in my head and I suddenly thought of Tracey... I had a feeling I'd never see her come to see me in Darndale again," she said.

The family will mark the second anniversary of her death tomorrow and wish to thank the gardai and staff of Beaumont Hospital.

Tracey O'Brien (31) was assaulted by Wesley Ward and his partner Michelle Brannigan following an argument outside the Rotunda maternity hospital on June 18, 2009.

Ward pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced on Wednesday to three years in prison.

Brannigan was acquitted of manslaughter but next month will be sentenced for a conviction of assault causing harm.

The couple accused Tracey of telling others their baby was being taken into care.

Grieving mum Linda told the Herald it was "disgraceful" that Ward got only three years in prison. Ward had pulled her daughter to the ground by her hair and kicked and stamped on her head.

"He used her head like a football...The only thing that kept me going for the past two years was the thought of him getting his comeuppance," she said.

Mrs O'Brien, from Snowdrop Walk in Darndale, spoke movingly of her heartache lasting several years as she witnessed her daughter struggle against addiction.

Linda moved into an apartment in Ballymun after her marriage broke down when Tracey was 10 and she took her and her siblings Keith and Danielle to live with her.

Linda said Tracey was "easily led" and became addicted to heroin in her mid-teens. From then on, Linda and her family tried to help her and they endured much anguish, including demands for money from drug dealers, thefts, and health problems.

When she finally stopped injecting heroin, Tracey became an alcoholic. Vodka and methadone loomed large in her life. She had contracted AIDS, hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver.

"She told me she was hopeful of getting a liver transplant," said Linda.

Tracey spent much of her days on the streets of Dublin and was highly sociable, knowing several other people with addictions. The Simon Community provided her with her own apartment in accommodation on the North Circular Road.

"Tracey was just a wonderful kid...Everybody loved her. She had lovely, long, golden red hair," said her mother.

Linda had spent time with Tracey on the day she was attacked. They shopped in Penneys and had lunch in a Chinese restaurant on the quays.

"Tracey asked the waitress for a job application form...She said it would be nice to work and be able to wave to her friends out on the boardwalk," she said.

Linda said her daughter's final words to her were "enjoy the weekend" and Tracey kissed and hugged her before they parted. Linda did not learn of the attack until the next day. Tracey was in a coma in hospital and died after a week.

"In her final moments, she squeezed my hand and she seemed to look around at all the family around her bed," she said.

Tracey's grandfather Sean 'Blondie' Nolan died a few months later. His dying wish was granted when her ashes were buried with him.

aokeeffe@herald.ie

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