In love with a serial killer - mum of two leads bizarre double life as Mark Nash's 'missus'

NewsBy Nicola Tallant
Martina Courtney
Martina Courtney
Mark Nash
Mark Nash
Martina Courtney speaks to our reporter
Martina Courtney speaks to our reporter

Meet the mum of two who has fallen for a serial killer and is so infatuated with Mark Nash that she has vowed to wait for him for as long as it takes.

Nash calls Martina Courtney his ‘missus’ and even wears a wedding ring to prove his commitment to the former lollipop lady, who regularly visits the callous killer in jail and who also refers to herself as his wife.

But outside the prison visiting room the Sunday World can reveal that she lives a bizarre double life with her bus driver partner and sons in her home in leafy Terenure in south Dublin.

This week, Nash was sentenced to two life sentences after being found guilty of the brutal murders of elderly hospital patients Sylvia Sheils and Mary Callinan.

He had pleaded not guilty to the horrific slaughter of the women as they slept in their beds in their home on the grounds of Grangegorman hospital in March 1997.

Nash was nearing the end of two previous life sentences for the gruesome double murder of young couple Carl and Catherine Doyle in Ballintubber, Co. Roscommon, who he killed after slaying Sylvia and Mary in a five-month spree that has earned him the title of Ireland’s most prolific serial killer.

The Sunday World can reveal that Nash (42), broke down in tears after the verdict last Monday as he believed he would soon be eligible for parole and would be walking into the loving arms of dedicated Martina, who he met through a prison workshop.

She is the sister of killer Sean Courtney, who battered Patricia O’Toole to death in the Dublin Mountains in September 1991 and who served 15 years behind bars.

The mum of two had been visiting Nash every day at Arbour Hill and they were planning for his imminent release.

She has been listed as his  ‘next of kin’ within the prison service and sources say she regularly brought her own children in to meet him in the past.

Nash has now been remanded to Mountjoy Jail, where he is starting afresh with another two life sentences. 

In the coming weeks, he will be transferred to a high-security unit in either Wheatfield or Portlaoise to serve his time and Martina will have to make do with one half-hour visit a week.

The Sunday World can reveal that Martina has worked as a lollipop lady at a posh school and is well known in her middle-class neighbourhood, where she likes to walk her beloved Shitzu dogs.

But her neighbours will be shocked to learn that the mum is also ‘married’ to a serial killer who is likely to become the longest-serving lag in the Irish prison system.

Martina met Nash when she volunteered to take part in an ‘Alternative to Violence Programme’ in prison. The programme seeks outsiders to see “the person behind the crime”.

Sources say she fell for the soft-spoken killer, who was only 25 when he carried out his horror murder spree. The pair struck up a relationship – although it is understood that it has never been consummated.

This week, when confronted by the Sunday World, she refused to talk about her relationship with Nash or his conviction.

However, her son Darragh ‘Escobar’ Dodrill (19), offered to sell us his story of his relationship with Nash. 

“I’ve been in and out to see him since I was nine,” he said. 

“He’s a great guy. She doesn’t want you to mention her, but I will talk to you for a few grand.”  

The Sunday World declined his offer.

Nash, who is originally from Leeds in Yorkshire, England, celebrated his birthday as the jury at the Central Criminal Court retired to consider their verdict following a 49-day trial.

Sources say that Nash has enjoyed a lax system at the prison over the past few years.

He was a model prisoner and sources say he loved to read in his cell and looked forward to his daily visits from Martina.

She regularly arrived with a picnic and often laid down a gingham tablecloth to brighten up the grim surroundings.

However, the relaxed regime is all over for Nash now and sources close to prison authorities say that Arbour Hill do not want him back.

It is likely he may be caged alongside killer Graham Dwyer in the midlands in a high-security unit where the daily routine is closely monitored and there is little leisure time.

“He broke down crying after the verdict. He was convinced he was going to walk and that he would be eligible for parole in the near future,” a source said.

“He was put on suicide watch. If you think about it, he has been in prison for 18 years and now he is facing into two life sentences so he has to do it all again. 

“Nash is institutionalised, there is no doubt about that but all prisoners focus on release or on appeals. That gets them through. 

“He is facing the reality that he will be the longest serving prisoner in the Irish system.”