Composure breaks down as court hears litany of violence and abuse

Wed, May 6, 2009, 01:00

THE MISERY of Kathleen Mulhall’s life was laid bare for all to see in the Central Criminal Court yesterday. But unlike her daughters’ trial, not many people had gathered to hear her story.

Linda and Charlotte Mulhall’s notorious actions in killing their mother’s boyfriend Farah Swaleh Noor and dismembering his body drew huge crowds of onlookers to the Four Courts in 2006.

Charlotte Mulhall was found guilty of the murder of Noor (38) while Linda was found guilty of manslaughter. Their mother had fled the country at that time but returned voluntarily last year and recently pleaded guilty to her role in covering up the crime.

Kathleen Mulhall (53) looked composed when she entered the courtroom yesterday and sat beside a female prison officer.

She was dressed in a neat black suit with white top and her black hair with red streaks was pulled back into a tight pony tail. Her nails were manicured and her long earrings jangled.

But her composure deserted her when details were recounted about the death of Noor in March 2005. She leaned towards the prison officer and cried, patting her forehead with her open hand.

Later she put her head down on the bench and shook with emotion as the many tragedies in her life were outlined by her barrister Hugh Hartnett.

She was abused by her father “and indeed her mother”, Mr Hartnett told Mr Justice Paul Carney. Despite the abuse, she had never been in trouble with the law.

She got married at a “very very early age” but it was her significant bad luck that she was to endure abuse and violence at the hands of her husband John Mulhall, Mr Hartnett said.

She left her husband and began a relationship with Noor who was also “violent and abusive”. Her first husband would later take his own life after the death of Noor.

Mr Hartnett said these claims of violence by both men were supported by Kathleen Mulhall’s medical records. This horrific background should be taken into account in sentencing, her barrister contended. “Not to take that into account would be an outrage against justice. Not to do so would be extraordinary.”

Throughout these violent encounters, the mother of six did her “level best” to keep her family together.

She did not report the crime because she wished to protect her daughters and she had even offered to take the blame.

Since then, she had appeared to throw herself into religion and learning in prison.

“She has thrown herself on the mercy of the court,” Mr Hartnett said, gesturing towards the woman with the bowed head.