Woman jailed for helping clean up murder scene
Siobhan Whitaker admits impeding apprehension of Dublin killer
Gardai at the junction of Cardiffsbridge Road and Tolka Valley road where Maurice Martin was found fatally injured in June 2009. File Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times
A mother-of-one who cleaned up the scene of a murder carried out by a “recidivist criminal” has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Siobhan Whitaker (25) with an address in Meadow Vale in London pleaded guilty to impeding the apprehension of an individual who she knew or believed to be guilty of Maurice Martin’s murder in Finglas on June 12th, 2009.
The Central Criminal Court heard that convicted criminal Daniel Gaynor, who was since murdered, killed the 21-year-old by stabbing him to death after he thought he smiled at his girlfriend.
Sentencing Whitaker today, Mr Justice Paul Carney said she had “no involvement whatsoever in the murder”. He noted her previous good character but said she pleaded guilty to a crime which carries a penalty of 10 years.
“The person who instructed her to clean up the scene was a person of known violent propensity who had threatened her previously,” he said.
Mr Justice Carney noted Whitaker pleaded guilty at an early stage and said her involvement was at the lower end of the scale before handing down the 18-month jail-term.
Mr Martin was on a night out after completing his carpentry apprenticeship exams and went to Bondi Beach nightclub to celebrate where he met another group of people.
Last month, Det Sgt Thomas Lynch told the court that Mr Martin and Whitaker were seen together in nightclub and got into a taxi to go to her house.
The deceased’s ATM card was used in Finglas but he was never seen alive again, the court heard.
His body was later discovered with multiple stab wounds on the junction of Cardiffsbridge Road and Tolka Valley Road in Finglas.
A postmortem found 14 stab wounds to his lungs, liver and the back of his neck.
A murder investigation was launched and Whitaker told gardaí in a statement that two men asked Mr Martin for a cigarette outside of her house and started to assault him. She claimed Mr Martin left her house at her request and she never saw him again.
Her house was technically examined and it was concluded that blood had been cleaned up.
When she was arrested and interviewed on June 22th, 2009, she again said Mr Martin had been attacked by two unknown males looking for a cigarette but later told gave a truthful account of what happened.
The court heard Whitaker has 21 previous convictions, mostly for road traffic offences, but also for public order and theft.
Det Sgt Lynch agreed with Michael O’Higgins SC defending that Mr Martin offered to leave Whitaker home but there was a detour to her friend’s house to get her handbag and keys.
He said Gaynor, who was the partner of Whitaker’s friend, thought Mr Martin had made some advances on his girlfriend by smiling at her when he stopped off at the house.
The court heard that Gaynor, who became very agitated, decided to make his way to Whitaker’s house and stabbed Mr Martin.
Mr O’Higgins said Gaynor was a person with “a very, very formidable reputation” and “a recidivist criminal” with a number of convictions and had previously assaulted Whitaker.
He said he put people in the community in fear and was convicted in the Circuit Criminal Court of intimidating a 62-year-old lady who had to be placed in a witness protection programme.
Det Sgt Lynch agreed that if Whitaker had said ‘no’ to Gaynor she would have been at risk of serious violence.
The mother of the deceased, Olive Brennan, read a victim impact statement to the court in which she said there were “no words to describe the pain and loss” and that she would never forgive Whitaker.
“He had a heart of gold and was always the life and soul of the party,” said Ms Brennan. “I got that knock to the door that no mother should ever get.”
Whitaker’s grandmother Aileen Roche gave evidence that her granddaughter was sincerely contrite.
“She is genuinely contrite, she has changed,” said Ms Roche. “She was always caring but is more caring now.
“When the horrible thing that happened to that boy…she told me the man who murdered him threatened her and her son,” she added.
In a letter to the court Whitaker said: “I didn’t ask for any of this to happen.”
“I’m pleading guilty because I felt guilty,” said Whitaker.
“Daniel was not a man to cross,” she said.
“He (Mr Martin) didn’t deserve what happened that night,” she added.
In mitigation Mr O’ Higgins said his client called to her friend’s house to get her handbag and keys which “set off a chain reaction” which lead to Gaynor carrying out the killing. “This person was willing to kill a person who he had never met in his life,” he said.