Bereaved mother: I feel the system let us down

A LITTLE more than eight-and-a-half years ago, 19-year-old Brian Mulvaney was on his way home after a night out in Templeogue, south Dublin, when he was set upon by a group of young men and beaten and kicked to death.

The devastation and horror felt by Brian’s family at the loss of their beloved son and brother was later mixed with anger and frustration, when they realised that one of his attackers was on bail at the time, awaiting sentence after being convicted of three separate assaults.

The beating received by the teenager was so bad, the head injuries so violent, that he could only be identified by his hands and shoes.

Three years later, Brian Willoughby was convicted of Brian Mulvaney’s murder, while another man was convicted of manslaughter.

While there was some measure of solace for the Mulvaney family in the fact two of the killers were eventually brought to justice, the wrong they feel was done to them by the courts remains a sore wound to this day.

“I just feel the system let us down,” Brian’s mother, Annie, told the Irish Examiner.

“He was in front of a judge, and the judge gave him bail,” she said of Willoughby, who was brain-damaged, mentally ill and on medication, as well as being before the courts on assault charges at the time of her son’s murder.

As for the victims of Willoughby’s other attacks, one lost an eye while another needed 100 stitches.

“I went to lawyers and approached different lawyers and was told that, because of the bail laws, the judge had every right to do what they did,” says Annie Mulvaney.

“Why I found it very difficult was because we have a law but, as well, you have the gardaí in that case pressing very strongly that that person should not get bail, because that person was a dangerous person, and the judge didn’t listen to them. I think it should have been taken into consideration.”

For Brian Mulvaney’s parents, Annie and Larry, and his sister, Aoife, the pain of their loved one’s loss will never go away, but they hope the system will never again put any other family through such suffering.

“I feel very strongly about it,” says Annie.

“I think the issue of the guards is very important because they deal with these people all the time.

“The garda that was objecting to bail [for Willoughby] did know exactly what that person was like. I feel what the guards have to say when they’re dealing with a person doing the crime should be considered more. A strong objection by guards should be of more importance.”

Annie now works with victims’ family group Advic, helping others who have suffered bereavement because of violent death.

“Since I became involved, we’ve had quite a lot of people who have related to us that the perpetrator was on bail when someone was killed. It’s all wrong.”


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