Solicitor of slain mother under garda protection

GARDAÍ are providing armed protection to the solicitor of murdered woman Baiba Saulite, it was confirmed yesterday.

The Law Society yesterday said the solicitor received death threats around a month ago and was under armed garda protection.

Law Society director general Ken Murphy said the solicitor was subject to garda protection for several weeks following the threats and that the protection was continuing.

He said that in light of Ms Saulite’s murder in Swords, north Dublin on Sunday, the death threat against the solicitor “must be seen as more alarming”.

He told RTÉ news that the solicitor had approached the Law Society a month ago and told them of the death threats.

Mr Murphy said the Law Society had made representations to Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy and was pleased with the commissioner’s response.

Mr Murphy said he “utterly condemned” the murder of Ms Saulite and the threats against her solicitor, which he said was “an attack on the administration of justice”.

Garda sources yesterday said they would not comment on reports that Ms Saulite’s solicitor had been seriously threatened, had been subject to an arson attack and had been given garda protection.

Nor would they comment on separate reports that Ms Saulite had herself received threats in recent months.

But garda sources said they would investigate any threats which may have been made.

Gardaí launched a major effort yesterday to identify and talk to anyone who crossed paths with Ms Saulite, a Latvian mother of two young children.

The investigation began in earnest as the brother of the deceased flew in yesterday afternoon from Latvia to formally identify Ms Saulite.

The 28-year-old woman was gunned down at the doorway of her home in what gardaí are satisfied was a “professional contract killing”.

Gardaí yesterday said they had not yet spoken to the woman’s estranged husband, Hassan Hassan, aged 38, currently in jail on a separate matter, but would speak to him in due course.

Separately, he spent almost three weeks in prison in January 2005 after he refused to comply with two court orders to hand over the couple’s two children who he had taken away.

Gardaí said they did not have much of a description of the hitman, but that the three friends who were with Ms Saulite at the time of the shooting, said he wore a white baseball cap and tracksuit top and bottoms.

Baiba ‘always looking over her shoulder’

THE former employer of Baiba Saulite yesterday said the mother-of-two was “very nervous” and was always “looking over her shoulder” when she came to work for him.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Liveline programme, the man, named as Joe, said the mother-of-two had only begun to relax a bit in recent months.

“She worked for us for nine months, doing little jobs, to put an extra few bob on the table,” said Joe, who employed her as a cleaner two days a week.

“In the beginning, when she came working for us, she was very nervous all the time. She seemed to be worried about everything, looking over her shoulder all the time. In the last couple of months she seemed to be a little bit more relaxed, we were able to have a little bit of a chat and a yarn.”

He said she worked for him last Friday, just two days before she was shot dead at her home in Swords, Co Dublin.

“Only on Friday I was having a bit of a laugh and a yarn with her in the office. She was here and one of the little children was here in the office drawing, he was waiting for his mother to finish the job.

“She was having a bit of a laugh about having car parking space and little bits and pieces, having a general laugh. She was in good form on Friday.”

Joe said she was a lovely person. “She was an absolute beautiful person, just a beautiful person, so young, full of life, a lovely, lovely girl and lovely kids.”

He said she didn’t have much money. “She worked those couple of days, the two days, cleaning the office, she wasn’t getting huge money, just a few bob extra to clothe her kids.”

Anne, a friend of Ms Saulite, told the show that the Latvian national had “a nervous breakdown” a while ago amid all the stress of retrieving her two children who had been taken by her estranged partner, Hassan Hassan.

She said her friend was under “tremendous strain”, but was happy in Ireland.

Mary Banotti, MEP, who campaigns on parental abduction, said she had tried to help Ms Saulite.

“I’m desperately sad about this really tragic case, she was clearly a lovely person and cared deeply about her children.”

She also strongly criticised threats which had been made to Ms Saulite’s solicitor, which had been reported yesterday.

“The other thing here that’s really outrageous, I understand her solicitor has been threatened. That is bandit country. You simply cannot allow that to happen.”

Mark Cunningham, principal of Holy Family National School in Rivervalley, Swords, where Ms Saulite’s oldest son Ali is in junior infants, extended the school’s “deepest sympathy” to the family.

He said it was a “very painful, sensitive, shocking time for the whole community”.

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