Man claims he was paid to murder Irene White 13 years ago

Anthony Lambe said ‘guilty, judge’ to charge of 2005 killing in Dundalk

Irene White: the victim had three children, aged 17, six and five, when she was murdered

An anonymous call from Australia provided the Garda with a breakthrough in a long-running case and led to a historian pleading guilty to murdering a woman in Co Louth 13 years ago.

When gardaí approached him after receiving the tip-off, Anthony Lambe (34) said he was paid to kill Irene White (43) in the kitchen of her home at Ice House, Demesne Road, Dundalk, on April 6th, 2005.

Lambe, from Annadrumman, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, appeared at the Central Criminal Court on Monday and said "guilty, judge" before a hearing that finished with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy sentencing him to life imprisonment.

Det Insp Patrick Marry told Seán Gillane SC, prosecting, that Ms White had three children, aged 17, six and five, when she was murdered. She had separated from her husband at the time. On April 6th, 2005, Ms White dropped her children to school and returned home.

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Her mother, Maureen McBride, lived in a mobile home behind the property and routinely called into her daughter for a chat in the morning or early afternoon. At 12.30pm Ms McBride arrived and noticed Ms White’s back door was open. She then found her daughter on the kitchen floor surrounded by blood.

Footprints

Around the body gardaí found bloody footprints that led to the front door and over a wall into a park. They found no evidence of forced entry, and nothing appeared to have been stolen.

State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy noted 34 stab wounds to Ms White’s front, back, throat and arms when she carried out a postmortem. She believed the victim was attacked from behind but turned around to face her assailant. Ms White died from injuries to her lungs and heart.

The court heard the Garda investigation into the murder “ran into the sand” and was taken over by a serious-crime review team in 2011.

In July 2012 a TV programme calling for fresh information led to an anonymous call to the Garda from a woman in Australia. She said Lambe had told her that he murdered Ms White. In 2016 gardaí identified the woman and two of them visited Australia to interview her. Gardaí then spoke to Lambe’s ex-girlfriend, who remembered the day of the murder because she flew with Lambe to England and he was “jittery and nervous”. She put this down its being his first time flying.

Lambe confessed after being arrested on January 20th, 2017, telling gardaí that someone had asked him to kill Ms White on behalf of another person. At the time of the killing Lambe was “in a very bad place”, drinking and taking drugs and in debt. The person who approached him gave him details of the layout of the house and Ms White’s movements.

He remembered stabbing her and cutting her throat before escaping over the wall. He also told gardaí that he said a prayer over her body. He later telephoned the person who had asked him to do it and received a “relatively small sum of money”.

Nightmares

In the year that followed, Lambe said, his drink and drug abuse span out of control and he had regular nightmares. Det Insp Marry said Lambe showed genuine remorse and broke down several times. He said Lambe came from a “very well-respected, decent family” who had been distressed to learn what he had done.

The detective inspector also agreed with defence counsel Jonathan Kilfeather that Lambe was sexually abused for three years as a child and that this played heavily on his mind.

In 2011, six years after Ms White’s murder, Lambe started an arts degree and later earned a master’s in education. When he was arrested he was studying for a PhD in history.

Det Insp Marry said he believed Lambe was under pressure at the time of the murder. “That is as much as I can say at this stage.”

Ms White’s eldest child, Jennifer McBride, said that morning she went to school as normal, not knowing it would be the last time she said goodbye to her mother. “I was completely heartbroken,” she said. Ms McBride described her mother’s murder as frenzied, uncontrolled and an act of sheer brutality.

After her mother’s death she went to live with her grandmother Maureen McBride and was separated from her two siblings. Her grandmother died six months later “from a broken heart”, having never recovered from finding Ms White’s body, she said.

Ms McBride remembered her mother as a spiritual woman whom friends described as the life and soul of the party.

Ms White’s sister, Anne Delcassian, said in a statement that her sister’s death was brutal and that the killer had no thought for the victim or her family.

Speaking outside court, Ms White’s husband, Alan White, said he was in shock when he heard that someone had been hired to kill his wife.

“We got the result we needed,” he said after leaving the court.