herald

Friday 20 April 2018

Tsunami of grief as family remember 'girl with film star looks'

Shocked relatives tell of previous violent attacks

Brigid 'Bernie' Cash on her wedding day.
Brigid 'Bernie' Cash on her wedding day.

AT the home of the grandmother of murder victim Brigid 'Bernie' Cash, her loved ones gathered to weather their tsunami of grief.

The victim's mother and grandmother – both named Brigid – sat huddled on sofas with their family and friends in Mulhuddart as they struggled to come to terms with the violent death of their "beautiful girl."

All of them referred lovingly to the dead mum-of-one as 'Bernie' – it became her name while she was still a baby after "holy nuns" had suggested they call her after Saint Bernadette.

Her mother was distraught as she recalled her beautiful daughter's film star looks and the terror she suffered in the final weeks of her short life.

TORTURED

She described how her daughter had been "in hiding" after suffering a vicious beating during which she had been "tortured" with boiling water which had been poured over her body by sadistic attackers a number of weeks ago.

Bernie had been beaten to a pulp and was treated in a hospital burns unit for her injuries, her mother told the Herald.

When released from hospital on crutches with a broken ankle, Bernie had remained in the grip of terror that her attackers would return.

Her mother said that she had become increasingly fearful for her daughter's safety and had planned to go to the gardai. Her friend Christina Connors (35) said Bernie had lived in fear of being attacked again.

When Bernie's mother received the heartbreaking phone call about her daughter's body being found yesterday at her home in Warrenstown Walk in Blanchardstown, she rushed to the scene.

Neighbours had spoken of how her mother was being prevented from entering the home where her daughter's body lay with head injuries.

They said the devastated mother cried out: "She's been murdered, she's been murdered."

Hours later, the grief-stricken mother sat near her own mother as the two women received comforting hugs from their family and from Bernie's friends.

Brigid said her daughter was so good looking, she resembled actress Elizabeth Taylor. But after thugs had finished torturing her and she lay swelled and blistered in hospital some weeks ago, she had "looked like 'The Elephant Man'."

When wedding photographs were produced in the crowded living room, Brigid looked at the pictures of the breathtakingly beautiful daughter and collapsed in grief.

 

CLOUT

Bernie's grandmother Bernie O'Brien (70) said: "I was worried to death about Bernie. She was always a lovely child. The police told me she got a bad clout on the head."

And she said she hoped her family would get justice.

Family members said Bernie's marriage had ended a considerable time ago but the couple had been on good terms in the caring of their little son.

Back at the house where her body was found lying yesterday on the living room floor, local people spoke of their shock.

A neighbour said he had seen people in the living room of the house the previous day but he had heard no sound during the night.

Sometime after 10am yesterday, he said two young men had called to her home.

They hurried to his front door and shouted for him to call for an ambulance.

LYING

The neighbour said he dialled 999 and reported he had been told a woman was lying on the floor of a neighbouring house.

He was advised to give the woman CPR but when he arrived in front of the house, the door was locked and the two men entered the house through a front window.

The woman was lying face down on the living room floor.

"When they flipped her over...she was stiff. I knew there was no point in trying to give CPR as she was obviously dead for a while," he said.

He said he had seen the woman a few times in the past month and she had been a "very pretty looking" woman.

He said the finding of her body on Halloween was "a sad twist" to such a tragic incident.

Another neighbour said she had heard noise at the home of the woman a few times but she did not hear anything in the hours prior to the finding of her body.

Friends from the Traveller community who visited the area after the incident spoke of Bernie being "a nice lady who 100pc lived for her kid."

Her cousin Michael Connors (18), speaking at his home, said Bernie was "a very nice woman who would do anything for you."

hnews@herald.ie

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