Killer guilty of ‘cold case’ murders

Convicted double murderer Mark Nash has been found guilty of the “cold case” murder of two women, whose mutilated bodies were found in their sheltered accommodation in Grangegorman in Dublin nearly 20 years ago.

Killer guilty of ‘cold case’ murders

Nash is already serving a double life sentence in Arbour Hill Prison since October 1998 for murdering two people in Ballintober, Castlerea in Roscommon and leaving Sarah Jane Doyle seriously injured in mid-August in 1997.

Nash, aged 42, was found guilty by a jury at the Central Criminal Court to the murder of Sylvia Sheils, 59, and Mary Callanan, 61, between March 6-7, 1997.

In 2009 “a spectacular breakthrough” led to the DNA of the two deceased women being found on a black pin-striped velvet jacket belonging to Nash as part of the cold case review.

Yesterday Mr Justice Carroll Moran thanked the 11 members of the jury and told them they would never have to serve on a jury again.

Hugh Hartnett, defending, acting for the accused for the sentence to be backdated as there was a delay on the part of the State in bringing the prosecution in 1999 and it was appropriate for there to be some back dating.

Mr Justice Moran denied this and sentenced Nash to a life sentence for the double murder from yesterday.

The judge then offered his condolences to the families.

The niece of Ms Sheils, Suzanne Nolan yesterday delivered a victim impact report prepared by her mother and sister of the deceased, Stella Nolan.

In it Ms Nolan recollected how it was Friday March 7, 1997, when she heard the news that her sister, Ms Sheils, had been murdered while she slept in her bed. She also knew the other victim, Ms Callanan, well.

“For 18 years, justice has been delayed and justice delayed is justice denied. Not only for me, but for my family. Murder does not affect one person only — it affects the whole family.”

She had been a civil servant for 20 years and worked in the Valuation Office as a draughtsman and took early retirement.

Sylvia Sheils was educated in Loreto Abbey Dalkey and Loreto Convent Kilkenny.

“Her life was as valuable to her as each person’s is to them. I often talk about her to my grandchildren. But they will never know her, although some of them are very like her. This is such a sad loss, as it is also a constant reminder of what happened to her. Nothing can ever change that. So for me there is no joy, only sadness and loss…

“Sylvia and Mary’s lives were taken from them while they slept in their beds. They had mental health issues and were very vulnerable women. They were completely innocent. They played no part in what happened to them. They had a human right for their lives not to be taken from them. Nothing or no one can undo what has been done. I can forgive the sinner, not the sin — it can never be forgotten,” concluded Ms Nolan.

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