Update 3pm: A historian who has pleaded guilty to murdering a mum of three in her own home told gardai he was paid to carry out the "brutal" crime, writes Eoin Reynolds.
The murderer admitted his role in the slaying after gardai received a tip from a woman in Australia, telling them that he had confessed to her.
Anthony Lambe (34) from Annadrumman, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan appeared at the Central Criminal Court this morning where he pleaded guilty to the murder of Irene White (43) in the kitchen of Ice House, Demesne Road, Dundalk, Co Louth on April 6, 2005.
When arraigned, Lambe replied, "guilty judge" before a hearing that finished when Justice Patrick McCarthy sentenced him to life imprisonment. The deceased woman's daughter Jennifer McBride told the court that the death of her loving and gentle mother had caused "tremendous pain, sorrow and devastation".
Detective Inspector Patrick Marry told Sean Gillane SC for the prosectuion that Irene White, a respected member of her community, had three children aged 17, six and five when she was murdered. She had separated from her husband and lived with her children at Ice House, a large home in Dundalk adjoining a park.
On the morning of April 6, 2005 she dropped her children to school as usual, spoke to one of the teachers and returned home. Irene's mother, Maureen McBride, lived in a mobile home to the rear of the property and her routine was to call into her daughter for a chat in the morning or early afternoon.
At 12.30pm Ms McBride arrived and noticed that the back door was open. Inside, she found Irene on the kitchen floor surrounded by a pool of blood and with her head against the dishwasher.
When gardai arrived they saw bloody footprints around the body, leading to the front door and over a wall into the adjacent park. They also noted that there was no evidence of forced entry, Irene was wearing orange rubber gloves and the radio was on in the kitchen. Nothing appeared to have been stolen.
State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy found 34 stab wounds to Irene's front, back and arms. She believed that Irene was attacked from behind but turned around to face her attacker. Some of the wounds were inflicted while she was on the ground and she died from injuries to her lungs and heart. Her attacker had also cut her throat but that wound would not have caused her death.
The garda investigation "ran into the sand" and was taken over by the Serious Crime Review team in 2011. In July 2012 a television programme calling for fresh information led to an anonymous call to gardai from a woman in Australia. She said Lambe had told her that he murdered Irene White.
In 2016 gardai identified the woman and two of them traveled to Australia to interview her. Gardai then spoke to Lambe's former girlfriend who told them that she could remember April 6, 2005 because she flew with Lambe to England and recalled that he was "jittery and nervous". She put this down to the fact it was his first time flying.
Gardai arrested Lambe on January 20, 2017. He confessed from the outset, telling gardai that an individual had asked him to kill Ms White on behalf of someone else.
At the time Lambe was "in a very bad place", drinking and taking drugs and in debt. The person who approached him gave him details of the layout of Ice House and Irene's movements.
He remembered stabbing Irene and cutting her throat before making his escape over the wall. He also told gardai that he said a prayer over her body.
He later telephoned the person who had asked him to do it and received a "relatively small sum of money".
In the year that followed his drink and drug abuse went out of control and he had regular nightmares. Det Inspector Marry said Lambe showed genuine remorse, saying he was sorry and breaking down on several occasions.
He said Lambe came from a "very well respected, decent family" who had been distressed on learning what he had done. He also agreed with defence counsel Jonathan Kilfeather that Lambe was sexually abused for three years as a child and that this played heavily on his mind.
In 2011, six years after Irene's murder, Lambe began studying for an arts degree and later attained a Masters in Education.
When he was arrested he was studying for a PhD in history and had a strong interest in archaeology.
Det Inspector Marry said he believed Lambe was under pressure at the time of the murder and added: "That is as much as I can say at this stage."
He agreed with counsel that Lambe took part in charity work and thought he could "balance the books in some way" but later realised he couldn't.
Taking the stand, Jennifer McBride said that morning she went to school as normal, not knowing this would be her "last goodbye to my mam".
Their home had been filled with peace, tranquility, love and laughter but that was to be short lived. She was called out of class and told her mother had passed away. She felt shock, numbness. "I was completely heartbroken."
She described her mother's murder as "frenzied, uncontrolled" and an "act of sheer brutality". Following her mother's death she went to live with her grandmother and was separated from her two siblings.
Then tragedy struck again when Maureen died six months after Irene "from a broken heart" having never recovered from finding Irene's body. Jennifer was again left isolated and homeless.
She remembered her mother as a spiritual person who is often described by her many friends as the "life and soul of the party". She remembered the many good times with her mother and felt guilt and sorrow that her younger siblings were robbed of those moments and their mother's unconditional love.
A statement by Irene's sister Anne Delcassian was read out by Mr Gillane. She said that her sister's death was brutal and horrible and that the killer had no thought for Irene or her family. She asked why he had done it, what was his motive.
Speaking outside court Irene's husband Alan White said he was "in shock" when he heard that someone had been hired to kill his wife but added: "We got the result we needed."
Update 2pm: The sister of murder victim Irene White has said she is delighted her sister's murderer has finally been brought to justice.
Reacting to the life sentence imposed this afternoon on 34-year-old Anthony Lambe of Annadrumman, Castleblayney, Anne Delcassian said nothing would bring her sister back but told the court she was hopeful she and her family could now start getting some closure and her mother could rest in peace.
Speaking outside court Ms Delcassian went on: "It's been a long time coming but the murderer of my sister has got life today and I am absolutely delighted.
"He gave my sister a horrible horrible death. It was a brutal death ... He stabbed her over 30 times. This was a callous act."
During sentencing the court also heard that the accused had been asked by someone else to kill Irene on behalf of another person.
The judge was also told he received some money for carrying out the murder.
Update 1.15pm: Anthony Lambe, 34, has been handed the mandatory life sentence by Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy today after pleading guilty to the murder of Irene White.
The mother-of-three was found stabbed to death at her home in Dundalk almost 13 years ago
The court’s heard Ms White was stabbed over 30 times in her kitchen after she had dropped her children to school.
Lambe, with an address at Annadrumman, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, was arrested in 2017 following a fresh garda investigation and admitted to the murder.
The Judge was told he had been abusing alcohol and drugs at the time and was in a very bad place.
Earlier: Shock development in 13-year-old Irene White murder probe as man, 34, pleads guilty
A man has pleaded guilty to murdering Irene White in her Co Louth home almost 13 years ago.
The 43 year old was found dead at her home at Ice House, Demesne Road in Dundalk on the 6th April 2005.
34 year old Anthony Lambe, with an address at, Annadrumman, Castleblayeney, Co Monaghan, has admitted to the murder.
When his case was called at the Central Criminal Court this morning he replied: "Guilty, Judge"
A mother of three, Irene White was found dead at her home at Ice House, Demense Road in Dundalk on the 6th of April 2005.
The 43 year old had been stabbed a number of times.
Her mother found her body in the kitchen.
More to follow ...
- Digital Desk