Sunday 24 February 2019

'We got a life sentence' - tragic Olivia's family

Murder victim Olivia Dunlea’s sister Anne, mother Ann and sister Amanda
Murder victim Olivia Dunlea’s sister Anne, mother Ann and sister Amanda

The family of a mother-of-three who was stabbed six times but still alive when her killer set fire to her home have warned that convicted murderer Darren Murphy is "a danger to society".

The heartbroken relatives said that while Murphy was handed a prison term, they are serving a life sentence.

Murphy (41), of Dan Desmond Villas, Passage West, Co Cork, was convicted by a Central Criminal Court jury last week of the murder of Olivia Dunlea (36). He was handed a mandatory life sentence.

Murphy had admitted the manslaughter but denied the murder of the young mother whose body was found in her burning home at Pembroke Crescent, Passage West, on February 17, 2013.


Ms Dunlea, who had only been dating the defendant for eight weeks before her death, had been stabbed six times but was still alive when her home was set alight by Murphy.

Cork Fire Brigade members recovered her badly burned body in an upstairs bedroom and she had to be identified from dental records.

She died a week before her 37th birthday.

Ms Dunlea's three young children were not in the house that evening.

Her mother Ann and sister Anne have spoken out to describe the "total nightmare" the family have endured over the past five years, with Murphy standing trial three times before being convicted of murder.

They said that while they were relieved to see Murphy convicted at the third attempt, nothing will bring Ms Dunlea back.

"I was happy and sad," her mother said. "At the end of the day Olivia is still lost to us - we had to go through all of this.

"Five years - but we're happy with the verdict.

"But what is life imprisonment? Personally, I think the key should be thrown away - he should never come out again. He's a danger to society.

"Our lives have been standing still for the past five years.

"We've gone through trial after trial but, thank God, we got a good outcome in the end. But we're still without Olivia.

"She was our best friend - we were so close and we're totally heartbroken without her. She was always there for us. We got the life sentence, he got a prison term.

"Olivia was lovely - she was so warm-hearted.

"She was family orientated - her children were her world. They loved her so much."

Ms Dunlea's sister Anne said they were heartbroken by the appalling way she died.

"She was a pre-school teacher - Olivia was absolutely brilliant. Her door was always open to help anyone," she said.

"She was a daughter, a mother, an aunt, a sister and a great friend."

Murphy's manslaughter plea was rejected by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy said Ms Dunlea had been stabbed six times, suffering four shallow wounds to the front of her neck and two wounds behind her ear.

One of the wounds to the back of the neck was so deep it penetrated her spinal canal.

"It could be fatal but most likely would not deliver a rapid death," prosecutor Tom Creed said.

Prof Cassidy, from an examination of Ms Dunlea's trachea, determined she was still alive when the fire was began.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News