Family tells of ‘utter despair’ as murderer lodges appeal

By Olivia Kelleher

A mother who endured three murder trials before she saw the killer of her daughter jailed for life has spoken of her devastation after an appeal was lodged.

Darren Murphy, aged 41, of Passage West, Co Cork has lodged an appeal on his conviction for the murder of playschool teacher and youth leader, Olivia Dunlea.

Murphy tried to smother Ms Dunlea, 36, a mother of three, before stabbing her multiple times and setting fire to her home in Passage West on February 17, 2013.

He was convicted by a jury on June 18 at the Central Criminal Court, sitting in Cork.

Murphy lodged an appeal on July 11.

Confirming the appeal, the Courts Service did not specify the details.

The conviction came after a third trial.

Two previous murder trials had resulted in a hung jury and later a conviction which was overturned on a legal issue.

Olivia’s mother, Ann Dunlea, originally from Victoria Avenue in Cork City, said the family felt utter despair at the decision by Mr Murphy to appeal.

“We are back to square one. Demented again. There is no end to it. It is a punishment for us. He is grand,” Ms Dunlea told The Neil Prendeville Show on Cork’s Red FM.

“It shouldn’t be allowed. We are just after getting over all the trial business again. We were delighted with the conviction but Olivia wasn’t coming home.”

She said Murphy that had told lies and had “dragged” her daughter’s name through the muck.

Ms Dunlea said she was indebted to gardaí for their support but claimed, ultimately, it was all about the rights of an accused.

“Click your fingers. Apply for an appeal,” she said.

“We are sitting in the court listening to three trials and we can’t open our mouths.

“Some days I felt like standing up and saying: ‘That is my child you are talking about.’

“And they are all lies out of his mouth. In all my life, I never expected this to happen to us.”

Before the third trial commenced, Murphy, from Dan Desmond Drive in Passage West, had pleaded not guilty to murder but admitted manslaughter. The DPP declined to accept his plea.

Ms Dunlea was only identified through her dental records.

Her mother said she and her family have since suffered through the mental torture of three trials, which compounded their grief.

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