NewsCrime Desk

PICS: Catherine Nevin wears ring given to her by murdered husband

Crime DeskBy Patrick O'Connell
Catherine Nevin
Catherine Nevin

BLACK WIDOW Catherine Nevin continues to wear the wedding ring given to her by her murdered husband Tom – even as she this week snubbed the opportunity to finally apologise to her slain spouse’s family.

Sixteen years after being convicted of orchestrating the horrific gun murder of her innocent husband at Jack White’s Inn, in Brittas Bay, Co. Wicklow, in 1996, Nevin is now a pale shadow of the femme fatale who gained nationwide notoriety.

Gone are the power-suits and flaming red mane of hair that signalled her arrival in court each day during her trial.

Now she cuts a pathetic figure, shuffling through the streets of Dublin, her glamorous clothing replaced by scruffy jeans, while her thinning grey hair is swept back in a ponytail.

Her reappearance on the streets of Dublin came this week after she buried the hatchet with prison authorities in a row over a stolen memory card and began a new college course at Maynooth University.

The 64-year-old – who was convicted in 2000 of hiring three men to gun down Tom – dropped out of her addiction counselling course last December after being quizzed by staff in the Dochas Women’s Prison about a memory card which had gone missing from the computer room.

Sources have revealed to the Sunday World that she agreed to begin a new course in Maynooth in the hopes that by complying with the parole board recommendation to do so, she will increase her chance of full release from prison next year.

On Wednesday we confronted Nevin moments before she was due to board a Dart from Drumcondra to Maynooth.

“Is it true that you’re getting out next year?” our man asked Nevin, only to be rebuffed with a terse “no comment”.

As Nevin spied our camera she tried to evade our questions by crossing through four lanes of busy Dublin traffic.

 “Do you still maintain you’re innocent?” we asked, only for Nevin to stare studiously ahead in a bid to avoid answering.

“Do you accept now that you had your husband killed?”

Again there was no response as she continued her attempt to walk away.

“Is there anything you would like to say to Tom’s family?”

Again there was no response.

Despite her high-profile conviction she has never taken responsibility for her role in the murder of Tom and is also still fighting for a share in his substantial estate.

The person who pulled the trigger has never been brought to justice.

Nevin never admitted her guilt and has appealed three times against her life sentence.

She was charged with murder in April 1997 and found guilty in August 2000. Nevin also got a seven-year sentence for soliciting three men to kill her husband.

Her marriage to Tom was a deeply unhappy one, endured by the shy, salt-of-the-earth publican in the face of her numerous and very public affairs.

She regularly flaunted her lovers in the pub in front of her husband and even furiously ordered him to knock before entering her bedroom after he found her in bed with another man.

Nevin’s patience with her husband’s presence in the family home was running out and in 1996 she had him shot dead in a staged robbery.

The jury’s decision to find her guilty was ultimately based on the evidence of three men – William McClean, John Jones and Gerard Heapes – who said they were solicited by Nevin to kill her husband. There was no forensic evidence, and there were no eye-witnesses to the killing.

There was no admission by Nevin that she had any involvement in the crime. There was circumstantial evidence, but the jury was told this alone was not sufficient to convict her.

In essence, the credibility and reliability of the three men who say they were solicited by Nevin to kill her husband is at the heart of whether her conviction is safe.

Despite her conviction, Nevin waged a long-running legal battle with her victim’s family in the hopes of inheriting her slain husband’s assets, while repeatedly seeking to have her conviction overturned.

In June, it emerged that she had signed up one of the world’s most high-profile human rights lawyers in a fresh bid to have her murder conviction thrown out.

She will be represented by Michael Mansfield, the London-based barrister who famously defended the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four.

Our attempts to ask Nevin whether she was still chasing her murdered husband’s assets were given the cold shoulder.

“Are you still trying to get his share of the estate?” we asked, only for Nevin to again remain silent.

Spotting a bus, Nevin – who was now clearly frustrated with the Sunday World’s questions – tried to make a break for it, only for the bus driver to close the doors in her face.

As she returned to the stop, another man waiting at the spot indicated to her that our photographer across the road appeared to be taking her picture.

Sources say that behind bars she continued to maintain her innocence. Previously, Britain’s top crime profiler, Professor David Wilson, said Nevin would never lose face by admitting to the killing.

“In the fantasy world that she has created for herself, she was a good wife and an excellent businesswoman and on her way up the social and cultural ladder of Ireland,” he said.

“She will never admit to what she did because in that fantasy world she is as pure as the driven snow.”

The reality however, at least according to the courts and her fellow inmates, is very different.