O'Reilly conviction brings hope to victims' families

As Joe O’Reilly woke up on the first morning of a life sentence in Mountjoy prison the families of those whose killers have never been caught were given new hope.

As Joe O’Reilly woke up on the first morning of a life sentence in Mountjoy prison the families of those whose killers have never been caught were given new hope.

O’Reilly was found guilty of bludgeoning his 30-year-old wife Rachel to death in their north Co Dublin home.

The mother-of-two is among 130 women killed in violent attacks in Ireland over the last decade and last night campaigners for justice celebrated having another murderer behind bars.

After 33 months, a four week trial, and nine hours of deliberations, Rachel’s mother Mrs Callaly, her heartbroken husband Jim, their relatives and friends finally got justice.

Some families are still waiting.

Two years ago Irene White was stabbed to death at her kitchen sink, no-one has been charged with her murder.

Her sister Anne Delcassian offered words of support to Rachel's parents: “Nothing will ever bring back Rachel, but at least one more murderer of an innocent mother, sister, daughter and friend, is now off our streets."

“Jim and Rose Callaly have been through such a very, very difficult time and now justice has been served.

“The murderer of their beautiful daughter will serve a mandatory life sentence, and I hope it is life.

“The gardaí did a fantastic job here and I hope this trial acts as a warning for forthcoming cases, and gives hope to many others waiting for justice.”

Mrs White, who was separated from her husband Alan, was stabbed to death two years ago while she washed dishes in her kitchen. Her body was discovered in a pool of blood by her elderly mother Maureen McBride.

Despite two arrests, no one has been charged in connection with Mrs White’s death. A file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

On Good Friday, Mrs Delcassian held a vigil outside her sister’s home in memory of all the women violently killed across Ireland.

Another vigil was held just weeks ago in Cork to mark the first anniversary of the murder of teenager Sheola Keaney.

The 19-year-old had been violently assaulted and strangled by her ex-boyfriend Thomas Kennedy who has already been jailed for life for the killing.

The Callaly family supported the vigils.

“The hope that this case gives the rest of us who attended those vigils, that we will also get justice, is a wonderful feeling,” continued Mrs Delcassian.

“It shows there may not have to be forensic evidence at the scene, but there is a way of tracking these people, either by mobile phones or using CCTV footage which is fantastic.”

The jury of nine men and two women sitting in the Central Criminal Court unanimously convicted O’Reilly.

O’Reilly had laid in wait at Lambay View, Baldaragh, The Naul, Co Dublin, on the morning of October 4, 2004 and murdered 30-year-old Rachel, leaving their two young sons, seven-year-old Luke and Adam, five, without a mother.

Last night, the scenes inside and outside the Four Courts were among the most emotional ever witnessed in the state.

The crowd erupted in to cheers of "yes” and "justice" as the verdict was returned, with the Callalys collapsing in to each others arms and bursting in to tears.

Meanwhile, O’Reilly’s expression never changed, not even when Mr Justice White sentenced the killer to a mandatory life sentence behind bars without leave to appeal.

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