NewsCrime Desk

Notorious child killer set to be released back onto streets

Darren Goodwin
Darren Goodwin

One of the country's youngest murderers is set to be released within weeks, after serving 12 years for killing a de­fenceless 14-year-old with a hammer.

Darren Goodwin was just 15 when he killed Dar­ragh Conroy in a horrif­ic, premeditated murder, in which he viciously hit his victim on the head six times with a hammer.

He was given a life sentence in 2004, which was reviewed in 2014, and his release date is fixed for July 1, 2016.

In the new TV3 documentary, Ireland's Teen Killers, child psychologist David Carey said it is not possible to say the teenage murderer is no longer a danger.

He said: “We can paint a picture of their personality, their drives and their impulses but we can’t ever come to a granite conclusion about how dangerous they might be in the future.”

The documentary details how Goodwin was indifferent at the trial and pleaded not guilty, but barrister Seamus Clarke said it is now accepted that child killers are redeemable.

"Internationally, it is now accepted that when children are involved in crime, and it is a murder crime, they are redeemable, they can change and can provide to society in the future," he said.

The documentary shows how the court reviewed the initial life sentence, as it was thought it was difficult to assess Goodwin's mind at the time of the murder as it had not fully developed.

"Human personality isn't fully developed until the early twenties," said Carey.

"At age 15, it is still a piece in progress. At that age it is really difficult to come to a definitive answer about the formation of all the huge amount of pushes and pulls involved in what we call a personality."

The documentary retraces the disturbing events leading up to the murder in Mountmellick, Co. Laois, in November 2003.

Goodwin was born to teenage parents and had been reared by his mother and grandparents in the town, while never knowing his father.

During his teens – when he found himself in repeated trouble at school – he was sent to live with his father.

The trial heard that Goodwin had met his father for the first time shortly before he moved in with him, about six months before the attack.

Child psychologist David Carey suspects the schoolboy would have felt betrayed by his mother.

He said: "Darren didn't know his father – then he is removed and ripped from all that is familiar him and sent to a stranger's home. This caused within him deep-seated anger, anger that he held and ultimately expressed about the father.

"I would suspect there is also a deep sense of betrayal towards the mother."

After a failed suicide attempt in September 2003, Goodwin told a friend the week before the murder that he "would love to kill someone that nobody cares about, someone like Darragh Conroy".

He returned to live with his father but on November 11, 2003, Goodwin carried out his chilling murder threat, with the young schoolboy's body found in an area of wasteland.

Just hours after the murder, he attended a psychotherapy session with his father, who had been worried about his behaviour in the previous weeks.

It also emerged that he had sold a faulty mobile phone to a local man in the previous week and had replaced it on the day of the murder with the phone he had stolen from his 14-year-old murder victim.

Darragh had been hit six times in the head with a metal hammer. Five of the blows had been administered whilst he lay on the ground.

The disturbing TV3 documentary examines the modern phenomenon of teenagers who kill.

Between 2003 and 2013, 16 teenagers were convicted of killing on the island of Ireland.

Ireland's Teen Killers airs tonight at 9pm on TV3.