The parents of a 23-year-old woman strangled to death by her boyfriend have said they will never forget what was inflicted upon their “beautiful daughter” and will never recover from her loss.
The testimony was heard as part of a victim impact statement read to the Central Criminal Court, where Oisin Conroy, aged 34, who was previously found not guilty of the murder of Natalie McGuinness by reason of insanity, was committed to the Central Mental Hospital.
He also caused serious lacerations to his own head with a knife and told a doctor that he had tried to “skin himself alive”.
During the trial, the court heard that Mr Conroy “believed he was in the Matrix” and strangled Ms McGuinness to death in order to save her. Mr Conroy told gardaí there was a struggle in his mind “between the devil and Jesus” and that a voice came in his head saying he had to kill his then girlfriend, Ms McGuinness.
Mr Conroy, with an address at St Joseph’s Terrace, Boyle, Co Roscommon, was charged with murdering Ms McGuinness at The Mews, Mail Coach Rd, Sligo, on October 28, 2015.
He pleaded not guilty to murdering Ms McGuinness by reason of insanity.
On July 7, after a period of 24 minutes deliberating, a jury of six men and six women returned a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.
Yesterday, Tara Burns, prosecuting, told the court she had been asked to read a victim impact statement written by Natalie’s mother, Catherine McGuinness, on behalf of both parents.
The court heard that October 28, 2015 was the day the McGuinness’ family’s “lives stopped being normal.” Mrs McGuinness said they feel “emotionally battered and bruised as parents” and they can no longer live “an ordinary life”.
“A parent should never have to receive the devastating news that their child has died, whatever the circumstances, but we can never forget what was inflicted upon our beautiful daughter Natalie before her young sweet life came to an end,” she said.
Mrs McGuinness said “beloved Natalie” has been taken from them “forever” and they can “no longer make sense of” their lives.”
“We cannot believe we will never get to hear her voice or see her again,” she said. “Our hearts suffer from the deepest wounds from which they will never recover.
“Sitting in a criminal court for the first time was a very difficult task, so hard to listen to and take in. The language barrier has reinforced our feeling of isolation. We are still in shock from the whole event.”
The court heard Natalie was born on New Year’s Day in 1992 and it was “the most precious gift” they could have hoped to receive for the start of the new year.
Mrs McGuinness said that, prior to Natalie’s birth, she had lost twin girls who both died at two days old, and a boy who died at six months.
“You can imagine our delight when Natalie was born, she made the headlines that year for all the right reasons which of course made us even prouder,” she said. “New Year’s Day will never be the same for us again because it was her birthday and more importantly the start of another year without her.”
The victim’s sister, Jodie McGuinness, then read a second emotional victim impact statement from the stand. She said she was 19 when Natalie passed away and she was expecting a baby boy.
“We planned so much for the future,” said Ms McGuinness. “While I was waiting for my first doctor’s appointment she had it all figured out; who would do night feeds, who would change nappies, who would do all the other baby duties.
“It’s been 591 days without her on this world and it feels like a lifetime. The clock doesn’t stop, the day’s don’t get slower, the memories don’t fade, the anguish doesn’t go away.”
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