NewsCrime Desk

Man suspected of murdering mum-of-three fights for life after prison overdose

Jennifer Dornan
Jennifer Dornan

A man wanted in connection with the murder of a mother-of-three is fighting for his life after taking an overdose in an Irish prison.

Raymond O'Neill (38) is wanted by the PSNI and is facing charges of murder and arson over the death of mother-of-three Jennifer Dornan, who was found stabbed in her burning home last year.

O'Neill was arrested and detained by gardai in Dublin in February on a European Arrest Warrant.

He was remanded in custody after the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) in Northern Ireland began extradition proceedings.

O'Neill, formerly of Summerhill Walk, Dunmurry, was rushed to hospital after taking a quantity of drugs at Midlands Prison in Portlaoise, where he is being held. It is understood his condition last night was critical.

A prison source told Independent.ie: "This man took what was a suspected durgs overdose in the Midlands Prison last week.

"He was removed to Portlaoise Hospital where he remains in a critical condition.

"He is very unwell and unlikely to make a recovery," the source added.

Ms Dornan was found stabbed to death in her burning house at Hazel View in Lagmore, west Belfast, last August.

It is believed she was followed by her killer from a friend's house on the night of the vicious attack.

The PSNI believes she was stabbed with a 14-inch blade before the upstairs of the property was set alight.

Detectives investigating the murder believe Ms Dornan's killer torched the property in an attempt to cover their tracks.

The property was so badly damaged by the blaze that the roof collapsed.

A young family living next door narrowly escaped injury and subsequently moved out of their property because of the extent of the damage.

Ms Dornan (30) had children aged eight, five and three.

Her younger sister, Claire Dornan, said yesterday that her sibling's murder had been a "living nightmare".

Her grief-stricken family had arrived at the High Court in Dublin last Thursday only to find out that 37-year-old O'Neill had been taken to hospital just before he was due to leave Mountjoy.

"All we want is justice for Jennifer," she said.

"It's been over a year now and we still don't have any answers.

"It feels like we get our hopes up and then nothing happens - it's really frustrating.

"We just want this extradition to go ahead so we can get a trial.

"We all miss her so much. This is a living nightmare.

"We have waited so long for justice for my sister.

"We have been put through enough already and it just seems like every time we get somewhere we go two steps back."

The killing of the mother stunned the west Belfast community and on the first anniversary of her death, friends and neighbours gathered to hold a vigil.

West Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann said the murder remains "difficult to take in".

"There is still a sense of shock in the community." she added

Belfast Telegraph