The mother of two boys murdered by their father says she wants convicted killers to wait longer for parole.
Kathleen Chada is calling for the implementation of the Parole Bill which would change the length of time at which someone serving a life sentence can appeal for parole from seven years to 12 years. Her husband Sanjeev Chada, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2014 after driving his sons, Eoghan (10) and Ruairí (five), to County Mayo, where he strangled them in late July 2013.
“If that is implemented in the next 12 to 14 months then he can’t apply for parole until he has served 12 years. That’s one piece of legislation I want to see implemented as soon as possible,” she told RTÉ radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show.
Ms Chada said that she would be fearful for her life when he is released from prison: “My greatest nightmare is bumping into him over the grave. He threatened me. He planned to take my life along with the boys.”
She welcomed plans for an independent study of domestic homicides in Ireland, such as the murder of the Hawe family, which Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan brought to a meeting of the Cabinet yesterday.
The proposed study is expected to pave the way for the introduction of statutory Domestic Homicide Reviews (DHRs) next year, similar to those operating in Britain.
Clodagh Hawe and her three sons were murdered by her husband Alan in their Cavan home in 2016. An internal Garda review of the deaths is ongoing.
Ms Chada said the review will provide answers for families and will look at the incident through the lens of the victim. However, she warned that a review could take a year and that, in the meantime, more people will be killed.
“It could take a year for the review to be completed. Historically, we know that in a year women and children will be killed while the study is going on. Something has to be done immediately. My fear is dragging this out.”
Looking at the history and background will give answers and prevent other homicides, she said. It will not give answers in her case because her husband made a guilty plea.
Ms Chada pointed out the ‘imbalance’ in the funds invested in services: “Counselling and support services for families received funding of €28,000 last year while there was €50million spent on legal aid. That’s simply not fair.”
After the deaths of her sons, she had to cancel the children’s allowance, and change the electricity bill and Sky subscription from her husband’s name. There is a need for support for the day to day things that have to be changed, she said.
She is hoping for cross-party support for a bill being put forward by Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesman, Jim O’Callaghan, which “goes a little bit further". There are “so many loopholes in the legislation at the moment".
Safe Ireland welcomed the news that plans for an independent research study on supports to people whose relatives have been killed by a family member, describing the move as an acknowledgement that State agencies have, to date, failed families living with the trauma of family murder. However, it emphasised that it is important that the review addresses the immediate needs of families who have already been affected.
“We have to get this right for the many families that have been left hanging without adequate supports, advice and counselling," said Caitriona Gleeson, programme and communications manager with SI.