Man gets life for strangling girlfriend

A 32-year-old man has been jailed for life for the murder of his girlfriend in Ennis over a year ago.

A 32-year-old man has been jailed for life for the murder of his girlfriend in Ennis over a year ago.

In the Central Criminal Court, Noel Hogan, a native of Limerick city with a last address at Brewery Lane, Ennis, pleaded guilty to the murder of his girlfriend, Ms Lorraine O'Connor, on October 21, 2001.

Ms O'Connor's body was found concealed beneath a bed base in her flat in Ennis by another occupant of the flat. Her mother had reported her missing to gardai.

Mr Justice Carney imposed the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment, to date from the day Hogan was arrested.

Sergeant Seamus Ruane of Ennis garda station told the court that Hogan had been going out with Ms O'Connor for about two years when the incident happened. For a time, he had lived in her house, and he had also worked in a pub for which the O'Connor family held the licence.

The deceased woman's mother had dropped Hogan and Lorraine O'Connor to a night club in Ennis at around 1.30 am on the morning of October 21. Mrs O'Connor came to open her pub at 9.30am, and when Noel Hogan joined her there, she asked him where her daughter was.

"He said he didn't know, she was back at the flat as far as he was aware", Sgt Ruane said.

He said Mrs O'Connor's concern grew throughout the day, and that evening, she reported her daughter missing. A Garda hunt was immediately launched. Lorraine O'Connor's body was later found by another occupant of the flat. It had been placed under the base of a bed in an attempt to conceal it.

Gardai found that Noel Hogan had left for England, having stolen the takings of the O'Connor pub, some £2,600. When the money ran out, Sgt Ruane said, Hogan rang an Ennis-based sergeant on October 27 and told him where he was.

He then gave himself up at Paddington Green police station and stayed voluntarily there until members of the gardai came to collect him.

On arrival back at Shannon airport, he was formally arrested. On the plane back and at Ennis garda station, he made statements of admission to the murder. In the statements, he admitted strangling Lorraine in the early hours of October 21.

The court heard that the circumstances of the assault were that Lorraine O'Connor was entirely without blame for what happened and that she was taken by surprise by Hogan.

Sgt Ruane told the court that Noel Hogan was the youngest of a Limerick family of 12 who had lived in St Mary's Park, Limerick in his younger days.

He had previous convictions for larceny and assault causing actual bodily harm for which he received an 18-month sentence in 1989. He is currently serving time in Limerick Prison for a sexual assault.

For Hogan, Mr Patrick Gageby SC said his client had written a letter of apology to the O'Connor family and that from the time he gave himself up, he had indicated his "great remorse" for what happened.

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