Man who murdered four was driven by jealousy

A man has been given four concurrent life sentences for murdering two women and two children.

John Geary, aged 37, of Meadow Court, Newcastle West, Co Limerick, and originally from Milford in North Cork, stabbed his former partner and their five-month-old daughter to death because she had left him. He stabbed the other woman and Ms Hines’ three-year-old son to death because they had arrived at the scene and caught him.

Geary had pleaded guilty to murdering his former partner Sarah Hines, aged 25, their daughter Amy, her brother Reece, and Ms Hines’ friend Alicia Brough, aged 20, at a house in Hazelgrove, Newcastle West, on Nov 15, 2010.

Det Insp Eamon O’Neill told the Central Criminal Court that gardaí found two knives and a screwdriver at the scene, but believed up to five weapons were used.

Det Insp O’Neill said that when Geary arrived at the house that day, he found Sarah and Amy Hines. “Alicia Brough had taken Reece to the butcher’s,” he said.

He said Geary attacked the mother and baby with a knife with exceptional violence “to say the least”.

He inflicted 21 wounds on his ex-partner’s face, neck and chest, including seven stab wounds and eight incise wounds. Geary inflicted nine knife wounds on his baby daughter.

Det Insp O’Neill said a pathologist found Ms Hines had struggled to defend herself, but would have collapsed once she sustained knife wounds to her heart and lungs. The autopsy findings suggested that Amy Hines died rapidly.

“It would be our belief that Alicia Brough walked in on the attack,” he said.

Ms Brough sustained 14 to 16 wounds to various parts of her body that would not have resulted in immediate death, the garda said.

Geary used a screwdriver to kill Reece, who was not related to him. He inflicted 15 wounds on the boy, including a number of penetrating wounds to his neck, spinal cord, lung, heart, and aorta. His death would have been rapid, if not instant.

“He used a knife, which broke in the killings,” said the detective, explaining that Geary then used a sickle knife before using a screwdriver on Reece.

He said Geary then changed his clothes before walking home.

However, he realised that he had left his key in Hazelgrove and so returned to the scene and got his key. Before he left, he locked up the house, meaning that gardaí had to force the door when the alarm was raised the following day.

Geary then travelled by bus to Kilkee, Co Clare, where he checked into a guesthouse and had a drink at the bar. He had a full breakfast the following morning, before going to two pubs. He was arrested in the second pub that day.

Det Insp O’Neill said Geary met Ms Hines in 2008 and that they had had an on-off relationship until she became pregnant with Amy in 2009. They became close again after the birth, but split soon afterwards.

“It’s our belief that Mr Geary was driven out of jealousy and control,” he said. “As far as she was concerned, they had split. He wasn’t accepting that.”

Geary had told people that he was not happy, he said. She had entered a new relationship and Geary took her phone away to prevent contact with her new boyfriend. “It’s our belief that John Geary became very, very jealous and went to confront her.”

He explained Geary had attended horticultural college and was from a decent, high-achieving family.

He had limited contact with them since he was 18, but had gone to visit them after Amy’s birth.

He said he had previous convictions for larceny, forgery, theft, and burglary.

He agreed with Hugh Hartnett, defending, that Geary had been treated for depression in the two years before the murders.

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