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Ongoing pain Brother of slain Sharon Whelan reveals last words she ever spoke to him

All Sharon wanted was to be a mum – and a good mum. That is all she talked about. When Zarah came into the world, that was her world,” said John.

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Inset: Victims mum Sharon Whelan and her two daughters, Zarah (seven) and Nadia. Main: Brian Hennessy

Inset: Victims mum Sharon Whelan and her two daughters, Zarah (seven) and Nadia. Main: Brian Hennessy

Inset: Victims mum Sharon Whelan and her two daughters, Zarah (seven) and Nadia. Main: Brian Hennessy

The brother of tragic mum Sharon Whelan who was murdered with her two children on Christmas Day 2008 has recalled the last words she ever spoke to him.

John Whelan tells a TG4 documentary on Wednesday night that he will never get over the devastation caused by the brutal killing of his sister and his two little nieces.

Sharon was raped and strangled in her home in Windgap, Co Kilkenny, by local man Brian Hennessey, who then torched the house to cover his tracks killing her daughters Zarah (7) and Nadia (2)

Speaking to the TG4 documentary series Marú inár Measc, Sharon’s shattered brother said: “Christmas was such a time of joy and I know how much it meant to Sharon.

“It was the big time of the year for her. It would be the one time in the year where we would get together on St Stephen’s Day and spend all day together. And that meant a lot to her.

“I spoke to Sharon on my birthday, the 23rd of December, and she just wanted to check did my oldest chap Ben have this particular game for Playstation that she was thinking of getting him.

“That was the last time I spoke to her. She was just checking to see was she getting the right gift for her nephew.

“And that would have been her. Things had to be right when it came to the kids. It was important.”

Brutal killer Hennessey was given consecutive life sentences in 2009 after admitting the three murders but this was softened on appeal to concurrent sentences.

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John Whelan

John Whelan

John Whelan

Hennessey, then aged 23, walked to the Whelans’ remote home in the early hours of Christmas Day after a night’s drinking, telling friends earlier he was "going off looking for sex.".

He raped and strangled Sharon, who he didn’t know, and then started a fire, knowing the two children were fast asleep in bed, before fleeing.

“All Sharon wanted was to be a mum – and a good mum. That is all she talked about. When Zarah came into the world, that was her world,” said John.

“There was a six-year gap between the two girls. Nadia was only two when she passed away so we were only starting to see her personality.”

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He said he saw the body of his sister in the funeral home and could make out the strangulation marks on her neck.

“It was a long time before that I actually felt anything really, that I could describe as feelings.”

He said the family’s pain was made even worse when they discovered Hennessey was among the crowd who gathered at the burning house while some brave locals risked their lives to get inside.

“After the funeral, for us to find out later on he was there, he was in that crowd, it’s quite horrific.

“This just put another layer of unbelievable pain on what we were dealing with already, that someone had deliberately done this.”

He said he still struggled to comprehend what and why Hennessey did what he did.

Recently John has been busy writing to the parole board to stop evil Hennessey getting out of prison early.

The family was devastated when the original consecutive life sentences – which would have kept the killer postman behind bars for most of his life – was commuted on appeal to one concurrent sentence.

This allowed Hennessey to make an appeal for early release after just seven years.

Although that parole hearing three years ago was unsuccessful, the monster can appeal again at the end of this year and Sharon’s family are determined to stop him getting out.

John said it was as if Hennessey was in prison for just one murder and the other two lives didn’t matter.

“It doesn’t matter to the state. We have to continue to fight the state to keep him in prison. My parents will take this to the grave.”

John has been campaigning for a change in sentencing laws, calling for minimum terms like in the UK where killers have to serve a minimum of 25 years before applying for parole.

Marú inár Measc airs on TG4 tonight (Wednesday) at 9.30pm.


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