Eight years for married man who killed lover in her bed

Colm Deely previously convicted of murder of Deirdre McCarthy but ruling later quashed

Colm Deely strangled Deirdre McCarthy in her bed after he claimed she threatened to tell his wife about their affair. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Colm Deely strangled Deirdre McCarthy in her bed after he claimed she threatened to tell his wife about their affair. Photograph: Collins Courts.

 

A married man who strangled his lover in her bed after he claimed she threatened to tell his wife about their affair has been jailed for eight years.

Deirdre McCarthy’s body washed up on Fanore Beach in Co Clare days after Colm Deely disposed of her remains in the sea.

Deely (45), of School Road, Ballyvaughan, Co Clare, was previously convicted of Ms McCarthy’s murder by a jury and jailed for life but the decision was quashed after it emerged the work of then deputy state pathologist Dr Khalid Jabbar was not peer reviewed.

In January Deely pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of Ms McCarthy (43) at a place unknown on or about March 28th, 2011. His plea was accepted by the State.

Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy on Monday said the sentence he was imposing was “in the absence of evidence which might have or might not have supported a more serious charge”.

He described Ms McCarthy as a “quiet, modest and vulnerable person” who the accused subjected to a “homicidal attack”.

The judge said Ms McCarthy had been friends with Deely, a married father of two, for a number of years and that their friendship later became “romantic in nature”.

‘Not to be found’

Deely visited Ms McCarthy at the guesthouse where she lived and worked in Ballyvaughan and “the next day she was not to be found,” the judge said.

Mr Justice McCarthy said the cause of death, strangulation, was based on “statements made by the accused” who had admitted that “he had used his hands on her neck”.

Referring to Deely’s admission to manslaughter, Mr Justice McCarthy said: “The evidence in the case would not have been sufficient to have proved murder,” adding that “one needs medical evidence in a case of unlawful killing”.

Prior to handing down the eight-year term, Mr Justice McCarthy said the offence had been aggravated by a number of factors which included the fact that the accused had gone to work with the dead woman’s brother hours after disposing of the body.

The judge added the accused had treated the deceased’s body in a “callous manner” by dumping it in the sea.

Describing Deely as formerly being a “hard-working and respected member” of his community, the judge said the starting point for sentencing would have been 12 years. He said Deely must serve a “substantial period of imprisonment” for killing Ms McCarthy.

However, in imposing an eight-year term, the judge said he was taking into account the accused’s early guilty plea to manslaughter and the fact he had “shown contrition” over the killing.

‘Haunted forever’

Last week, Ms McCarthy’s sister, Helen Geoghegan, wept in court as she explained her family would be “haunted forever” by the killing.

Reading a victim-impact statement on behalf of Ms McCarthy’s family, Ms Geoghegan told the court: “Dee was a kind, easy-going person who lived a very, happy ordinary life...Dee made time for everyone.”

Ms Geoghegan also revealed that their mother “died of a broken heart as she never recovered from what happened to Dee”.

She said the killing had a massive effect on the wider family with “so many lives impacted by this terrible crime”.

“To us she was a daughter, a sister, an aunt. She loved nothing more than spending time with her family and friends, her nieces and nephews whom she adored,” she said. “We all miss her so much and it is still so hard for us to understand what happened to her on that night. Sadly we never will.”