Killers running car wash on prison grounds
THEY are the convicted murderers who went up Ireland’s holiest mountain and came down charity workers.
Two killers appear to have undergone a Damascene conversion after being photographed on the summit of Croagh Patrick and are now washing cars to raise funds for Africa.
A Sunday World team this week attended a public car wash set up in the grounds of Loughan House prison, where inmates run a coffee shop, a bike-hire stand and a car wash.
After our team drove into the car wash, inmates Paul Sheehan and Richard Kearney made their way over and offered an all-over car wash for €5.
The duo, whose visit last month to Croagh Patrick was met with outrage, are, jail sources claim, proof that the prison’s efforts to rehabilitate inmates are working.
“These two lads are down at the car wash five days a week to raise money so they can buy parts for bikes to build which are then sent on to Africa,” a source said.
“They’re down there rail, hail and shine.
Fair enough, the crimes for which they are in prison are absolutely sickening and they’ll have to live with what they did until their dying day, but the prison is here to try and rehabilitate them.
“And the fact inmates like these are now washing cars to raise money to send bikes across the globe should be proof enough to anyone that the prison’s efforts are working.”
Others, however, find the gravity of the violent killers’ crimes more difficult to forgive.
Kearney was a 17-year-old petty criminal when on the night of November 23, 1998, he broke into the home of 72-year-old Mary Dillon and carried out one of the most sickening murders in the history of the State.
Seasoned gardaí found a scene of carnage and mayhem in the garage of Mary’s home two days later when they discovered the widow’s body battered and beaten with a rake.
Kearney later tried to worm his way out of a murder rap, but hadn’t figured on damning forensic evidence which would eventually see him serve life for the brutal killing of Mary Dillon.
He knew his number was up when cops revealed that they had found a catalogue of forensic evidence including a bloody thumbprint on the car and even Kearney’s blood on the victim’s bra.
What was most damning, however, was the discovery of Kearney’s blood on the rake used to beat the last breath of life from the frail pensioner.
The jury found Kearney guilty and in May 2001 he received life in prison.
Sheehan was 21 years old when he was jailed for life in 2004 alongside pal Ross Stapleton, despite pleading not guilty to the murder of Christian Scully (28) on October 17, 2002.
Mr Scully was on life support after being set upon at Sober Lane, Cork, early on January 28, 2002, before he suffered a cardiac arrest nine months later and died on October 17.
During a nine-day trial, the jury heard the statement the two accused gave gardaí.
Sheehan had said: “I went over and helped Ross. I got him [Mr Scully] on the ground and started kicking him... I was kicking him as hard as I could and stamping on his head.”
Mr Stapleton said: “We just beat him to death.”
Two weeks ago the Sunday World revealed that Sheehan and Kearney were part of a group of 12 inmates who mingled with unsuspecting pilgrims during a walk of atonement up Ireland’s holiest mountain Croagh Patrick.
The group included four murderers and several convicted drug dealers.
The story met with a furious response from victims’ rights group SAVE (Sentencing and Victim Equality).
Spokesperson John Whelan said: “It highlights that the whole regime needs to be looked at. We need a proper change in sentencing and parole laws.
“When you hear in the news that somebody is jailed for life, nothing could be further from the truth.”
However, a spokesperson for the Irish Prison Service defended the visit saying: “The Irish Prison Service transfers prisoners to open centres who have been deemed, following a risk assessment, to require a lower level of security.
“Prisoners transferring to open centres may avail of programmes of temporary release to aid their reintegration back into the community.
“Such programmes do include hill walking and other forms of recreational activities.
“Prisoners engaging in these activities are assessed for suitability and are accompanied by prison staff at all times.
“It is the role of the Irish Prison Service to engage will all offenders in custody in a proactive and progressive manner and to manage their sentences in a manner that reduces their likelihood of reoffending.”