Inquest adjourned after woman’s boyfriend appeals murder conviction

Deceased died of stab wound to the neck and smoke inhalation in fire, inquest hears

An inquest into the death of a 36-year-old mother of three has been adjourned after a coroner heard her boyfriend at the time of her death has appealed his conviction for her murder in a house fire.

An inquest into the death of Olivia Dunlea heard she died of a stab wound to the neck and inhalation of smoke fumes at her home in Passage West in Cork on February 17th, 2013.

Last May, Ms Dunlea's boyfriend Darren Murphy, of Dan Desmond Villas, Passage West, Co Cork was convicted of her murder at Pembroke Crescent, Passage West, Co Cork.

But on Tuesday at the inquest into her death, Det Sgt Simon Grace told Coroner for South Cork Frank O'Connell that Mr Murphy has appealed his conviction for murder.

House fire

Det Sgt Grace told the inquest the emergency services received four 999 calls in the early hours of February 17th, 2013, to report a house fire at Ms Dunlea’s house.

The fire service responded and also notified gardaí. When gardaí arrived they found firefighters fighting a blaze which was already well-established.

Smoke and flames were rising from the building and part of the roof had collapsed, showering burning material on to a room on the first floor, Det Sgt Grace said.

Initially it was thought the house was unoccupied but after bringing the blaze under control, firefighters were able to enter the building where they found a body in an upstairs room.

Dental records

Gardaí used dental records and jewellery to identify the body as that of Ms Dunlea, who had left the Rochestown Inn near Cork city with her boyfriend, Mr Murphy, at 12.04am.

Gardaí established that the couple got a taxi to her house and Ms Dunlea was last seen alive by the taxi driver at 12.20am on February 17th, Det Sgt Grace told the inquest.

Mr O’Connell said he would adjourn the inquest until Mr Murphy’s appeal against his murder conviction is concluded and he listed it for review in January 2016.