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Revealed: This is the woman behind bizarre grave robberies described as 'pure evil'

Mairead O'Sullivan (41) last week entered 18 separate guilty pleas relating to the theft of goods

Grave robber Mairead O’Sullivan at her home in Ennis, Co. Clare

Patrick O'Connell

These are the first pictures of self-confessed grave-robber Mairead O'Sullivan, whose actions have been described by a grieving mother as 'pure evil'.

O'Sullivan (41) last week entered 18 separate guilty pleas relating to the theft of goods with a combined value of €597.50 from graves at cemeteries at Drumcliffe and Templemaley outside Ennis and also from Tulla cemetery in Co. Clare.

On Wednesday, Kirsty Donnellan, the mother of 17-year-old Scarlett Feeley, who died just 20 months before her grave was targeted, told Killaloe District Court that she was "in a state of shock, anger and despair" when finding her daughter's grave had been desecrated in May 2020.

Ms Donnellan said that to have someone disturb your child's grave and steal items from it is "the most hideous crime one could ever be a victim of".

The Sunday World called to O'Sullivan's home in Ennis on Thursday to ask her if she would now apologise in person to the bereaved families affected by her despicable crimes.

"I'm looking to speak with Mairead O'Sullivan," our reporter began when she answered the door.

"You're talking to her, yeah," O'Sullivan replied.

Mairead O’Sullivan took numerous plants and items from graves in Clare

After our reporter identified himself and explained his reasons for calling, she responded: "I've no comment. I'm not going to make any comment or discuss anything with you now."

Asked if she had heard what Kirsty Donnellan had said and whether she would like to apologise to her, she replied: "I've heard it, yeah. But I'm not going to say I'm sorry to have it in the paper. I'm not going to be spouting it out anywhere."

Asked if she could explain why she took the items, Donnellan again declined to comment.

"I'm not going to talk to anybody about it."

At Wednesday's sitting, Garda Sgt Louis Moloney told the court four parties have made victim impact statements, which were handed to Judge Mary Larkin, while also stating that Ms Donnellan wished to deliver her own victim impact statement from the witness box.

Kirsty Donnelllan at her daughter Scarlett’s grave, which was targeted by O’Sullivan

In her statement, Ms Donnellan told the court: "For any parent to bury their child, it is the most distressing, traumatic event that one could ever have to face in their life.

"So, for someone to literally disturb the grave and to steal items from it, that are sentimental, and represent something of that person, that has meaning behind it, is extremely upsetting and the most hideous crime one could ever be a victim of," she said.

"When a loved one dies, the only thing we can do for them is to tend to their grave. We should be able to do that without fear that items of sentimental significance will be touched.

"These thefts have added to my anxiety, pain and huge loss. As a mother that grieves for her child, I should never have to visit my child's grave finding it interfered with and desecrated. My daughter also deserved to rest in peace."

Ms Donnellan stated that Scarlett "died tragically and unexpectedly in September 2018, to which I still await answers regarding the circumstances surrounding the causes that led her to her death, and as of yet, no inquest has been held due to various gardai and other investigations".

On discovering the first theft, Ms Donnellan recalled: "Still in the midst of my grieving, 20 months to the day after my daughter Scarlett had died, I went to visit her grave.

"I had planted two miniature yellow rose bushes on her grave a week or so previous, as Scarlett's favourite colour was yellow.

"However, on the day of May 16, 2020, on visiting my daughter's grave, I was in a state of shock, anger and despair and was in tears to find two holes in her grave where Ms O'Sullivan had dug out the rose bushes from my daughter's grave.

"This was not the only time my daughter's grave was desecrated. Later, during the summer in July 2020, items were taken from my daughter's grave. Again, I was left distressed, crying and my faith in humanity questioned as who and why could someone carry out such an act of disrespect and pure evil."

Scarlett Feeley Donnellan

Ms Donnellan said the thefts from Tulla graveyard continued despite the pleas she made on local and national media for them to stop.

"All those pleas calling for a stop to the thefts didn't stop Ms O'Sullivan from targeting them again.

"My daughter Scarlett's grave was targeted once again between April 13 and April 14 2021.

She said: "This time, yellow flowers that were in a pot, which her friends had put on her grave a week previous to mark Scarlett's birthday, had been pulled out of the pot.

"Again, feelings of distress, anger and a fear of not being able to put anything on my daughter's grave without it being taken or desecrated. I actually felt physically sick and could not understand how someone could do such a thing."

Ms O'Sullivan's solicitor Tara Godfrey told Ms Donnellan her client wished to offer an apology to her and the other victims in the case.

Judge Mary Larkin asked Ms Donnellan how the court should exercise available punishment on Ms O'Sullivan and in reply, Ms Donnellan said: "With the anger, hurt and the upset it has caused, I do think an example should be made because I don't think she should be able to get away with what she did."

Asked by Judge Larkin does she believe that Ms O'Sullivan should go to jail, Ms Donnellan replied: "I don't know."

Judge Larkin adjourned the case to September 6 for a probation report on Ms O'Sullivan, and said she hoped the report will find out why Ms O'Sullivan committed these offences. "They are very difficult to understand," she said.

"I want to hear from the Probation Service why someone would even consider going into a graveyard and desecrating a grave."

Judge Larkin told Ms Donnellan: "I am sorry for the distress that this has caused you."

Ms Godfrey previously told the court Ms O'Sullivan is a married mother and "has no history of criminality".

Ms Godfrey stated Ms O'Sullivan "had a certain vulnerability around the time" of the thefts.

Other items stolen from graves by Ms O'Sullivan included six ornamental barrels containing flowers valued at €90, solar lanterns valued at €100, rose bushes, three dahlia plants, a wicker window box, yellow flowers and flower-pots.

The thefts commenced in May 2020 and continued until April 2021 before gardai identified Ms O'Sullivan as the culprit.

The charges show that the bulk of thefts occurred at Tulla graveyard which was struck 15 times by Ms O'Sullivan over the 11-month period.

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