A taxi driver assaulted by a man who was later left out on bail and went on to strangle a woman to death has said she still lives with the guilt of what happened to his other victims.
A report by Mr Justice Kevin O’Higgins has highlighted serious failures in criminal investigations in the Cavan-Monaghan region between 2007 and 2008.
The handling of two garda investigations into killer Jerry McGrath has been the subject of controversy after he was free to murder mother Sylvia Roche-Kelly in Limerick in December 2007, despite having been arrested over two incidents in the previous months.
These were the assault of taxi driver Mary Lynch in Virginia, Co Cavan, in April 2007, and the abduction of a five-year-old girl from her bed in Dundrum, Co Tipperary, that October.
On December 8, 2007 – less than six weeks after the abduction – McGrath met Sylvia Roche-Kelly in a Limerick city nightclub where she was celebrating her 33rd birthday. He later strangled her to death.
McGrath was subsequently convicted of her murder.
He was on bail for the two previous incidents at the time.
Mary Lynch was left bloodied and bruised after she was attacked by McGrath in April 2007.
Ms Lynch told the Herald she had not read the O’Higgins report, but she was keen to see it published.
However, she was not confident it would amount to anything.
“You need somebody to be held accountable, but nobody has been held accountable,” she said.
“I don’t know where all of this is going and I don’t even know when the report is to be published.
“I would still be very afraid if anything happened to me in the Cavan-Monaghan area because the people who were (supposed to be) helping me in my case got promotions. There is nothing being done about the wrongdoings.”
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald received the report two weeks ago, but it is not yet clear when it will be published.
Ms Lynch said she was lucky to escape with her life after a frenzied attack by McGrath in which he repeatedly struck her and pulled clumps of hair from her head. “I feel guilty,” said Ms Lynch, before adding: “I am alive but I feel guilty. I rang that garda station every week. They told me my file was gone. It wasn’t. They still had it.
“This mistake cost a woman’s life. People talk about others telling lies and whatever, but because of people not doing their jobs, not being trained properly, and not being supervised properly – there is a woman dead.
“It was highlighted two weeks ago when it came out that the guards attending the shooting at the (Regency) hotel weren’t allowed to drive fast and to drive with a siren.”
Sylvia Roche-Kelly’s husband Lorcan said there was nothing surprising about the report’s findings. He said: “There is not much I can do to make things better for my kids or my family because what has happened has happened.”
He told RTE yesterday that he was not satisfied with the report and has not been
approached by the gardai or the Department of Justice about his wife’s murder.
“The thing that disappoints me about the commission is it looked to what happened, it didn’t look to what happened afterwards,” he told Today with Sean O’Rourke.
“My biggest issue with this is what felt like a cover-up by the gardai. It has taken nine years to get as far as this report.”