Murder trial witness wants to leave Ireland after fire attack on home

NewsBy Sunday World
Murderer: Marcus Kirwan
Murderer: Marcus Kirwan

Sonya Byrne, who was a witness in the murder trial of a brutal murderer, has spoken about a terrifying attack on her home.

Sonya Byrne identified Marcus Kirwan in a line-up, an act that helped convict him for the brutal murder of David Byrne in 2011.

David Byrne was stabbed nine times after being lured to a location by Kirwan pretending to be a girl.

Today the mum-of-four has spoken about an attack on her home five weeks ago, just days after an appeal by Kirwan against his conviction failed.

Byrne spoke to Anton Savage on Today FM about how she came to be involved in the case when she identified Kirwan in a line-up at a Garda station.

"I had to walk up and down twice," she said of the line-up experience. "He (Kirwan) was standing three feet away from me. It is not like on TV, where you are behind a screen. It happened in the courtyard of a garda station."

Byrne then had to give a statement and before the case went to trial two men visited her house, telling her she should withdraw the statement. They never identified themselves but they stood with theri hands in their jackets, suggesting they were carrying weapons.

However, brave Byrne decided to go ahead and give evidence.

During the trial, Byrne sat in the witness box just three feet from Kirwan as she testified. She described the experience as "pretty scary and daunting".

Kirwan was found guilty of the murder after a three week trial and sentenced to life behind bars in February 2013.

Murdered: David Byrne

Byrne was told that with Kirwan locked up she was now safe but just days after an appeal by Kirwan failed in October of this year, her home was attacked.

"I went to the bathroom and saw a flash of light in hall," she told Today FM. "I went to the hall and saw flames underneath my front door. That door was my only way out." 

A panicked Byrne called the fire brigade as she tried to douse the flames from the inside. A neighbour also assisted from the outside until the fire brigade arrived.

Byrne said on the radio that she did not regret giving evidence in the case.

"I didn't set out to ruin his [Kirwan's] life. I don't know him or his family. 

"I regret it to a certain extent but I wouldn't take it back and I would do it again."

Byrne went on to say that she is now looking to move outside of Ireland following the attack on her home.

"I didn't do it for myself, I did at the time what I thought was the right thing. Marcus can't take back what he did and I can't take back what I did."