Gardaí vow to keep hunting for prostitute’s killer

DETECTIVES have vowed to continue the hunt for the killer of a prostitute stabbed 18 times in a frenzied attack in a Dublin red light district.

No one has been charged with the murder of 21-year-old Sinéad Kelly, who was found dead with stab wounds to her head, neck, chest and back on the banks of the Grand Canal six years ago.

Ms Kelly’s father John was in Dublin City Coroner’s Court yesterday to hear an inquest’s verdict of unlawful killing of his daughter.

After the close of the hearing, Detective Inspector John Fitzgerald vowed: “It’s an unsolved murder and we are never going to close a case like that.”

A number of people have been arrested in connection with the June 1998 killing and files were prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions. But no-one was brought before the courts.

The suspicion is that Ms Kelly was killed because she owed a small sum to a drug dealer.

The last moments of Ms Kelly’s life were revealed in statements by three witnesses who heard a disturbance at Herbert Place, just across the canal from the apartment where they were staying.

Anne Johnstone said that around 12.30am on June 22, 1998, she heard a women screaming: “God someone help, someone please, please help me.”

Moments later she saw a heavily-built man with his hands in his pockets jog into the light. He was wearing a black leather jacket, quite tight and worn down to the hip. He had a buckle on his left shoulder, she said, and was wearing darkish jeans, with a woollen knitted hat.

Ms Johnstone, her husband Andrew, and friend Martin Cowell quickly alerted the gardaí as they knew a prostitute had been assaulted in the area the night before. Mr Cowell said he saw a second person close to the scene of the murder.

By the time the gardaí arrived moments later, Ms Kelly was already dead.

State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy revealed Ms Kelly may have died of any one of a number of the 18 stab wounds she received.

While reports at the time suggested Ms Kelly was a heroin user, the toxicology tests revealed only prescription tranquillisers.

Detective Garda James Butler was one of the last people to see Ms Kelly alive. He and a partner working in the Mount Street area spoke to her. She described an assault some time previously and said a person had been charged and she was determined to give evidence in the case.

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