Family campaigns to keep killer in jail


The family of a murdered Cork teenager has begun a campaign to try to ensure her killer remains in prison for life.

Mr John Sweeney, father of murder victim Nichola Sweeney, yesterday said his family would make it a quest to prevent the murderer ever being freed.

Ms Sweeney, who was 19 when she was killed, was preparing for a night out with a friend, Ms Sinead O'Leary, on April 27th, 2002, when aman broke into her home in Rochestown on the outskirts of Cork city.

Mr Peter Whelan, a neighbour, repeatedly stabbed both girls.

Ms O'Leary, who sustained lacerations to her arms and body requiring over 200 stitches, managed to escape after she locked herself in a downstairs bathroom. Ms Sweeney died from stab wounds to her heart and chest.

Whelan (21) was jailed for life in December 2002 for the murder of Ms Sweeney, and another 15 years' imprisonment for the attempted murder of Ms O'Leary.

Yesterday Mr Sweeney said: "The carnage surrounding Nichola's death is something we have to live with. We feel we have to do something to make sure her evil killer does not get back on the streets."

The family has set up a foundation and website to campaign for justice for the families of murder victims.

"Our lives are just empty shells now without Nichola. It's a joke that the perpetrator of such a heinous crime could be released in 25 years, when he will be only 45 years old. That's not justice. The minimum price that should be paid for taking a life is liberty," Mr Sweeney said.

The Nichola Sweeney foundation is hoping to serve as a contact point for those affected by the murder of a loved one.

It also campaigns for the families and friends of murder victims to have a say when those convicted of murder are applying for release.

Ms O'Leary said she fully supported the Sweeney family in the campaign.

The University College Cork psychology student said she could recall in detail the events of that night, and criticised her attacker for a lack of remorse at what he had done.

"All I wanted to know was if he had any remorse, but if he hasn't then there is no place for him in society," said Ms O'Leary.