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Deranged killer who stabbed Cork woman to death in front of her friend out on day release

Peter Whelan broke into Nichola Sweeney’s home and began a frenzied and unprovoked knife attack on the women

Peter Whelan

Nichola Sweeney

Sunday World reporterSunday World

A vicious murderer who took the life of a young Cork woman in 2002 and almost killed her friend has been out on day release when he shouldn’t have been.

Sinead O’Leary revealed to RTÉ how she learned that monster Peter Whelan has been enjoying day releases in Co Cork, the same place where he committed his heinous murder.

“Un-constitutionally he’s been out on day release, when he shouldn’t have been. He’s been in Cork which is horrific, I will have to move away,” Ms O’Leary said.

Sinead and her best pal, Nichola Sweeney, were getting ready for a night out in 2002 when Peter Whelan broke into Nichola’s home and began a frenzied and unprovoked knife attack on the women which left one dead and the other fighting for her life.

Now, it appears freedom may soon be on the horizon for the vicious beast, as Whelan will be eligible for parole in the next couple of years.

“He’s constantly appealing for time off his sentence. He was sentenced to 15 years for attempted murder and life for Nicola.

“I had faith in the justice system that the sentence would be upheld. But life doesn’t mean life in Ireland, I didn’t get that,” Sinead said.

Nichola Sweeney

Whelan was successful in getting his 15-year sentence for the attempted murder of Sinead reduced to 11 in 2013 and has been out on day release at least four times.

In America, a life sentence from a federal court will result in imprisonment for the life of the defendant, unless a pardon or reprieve is granted.

In Ireland, a life sentence is normally reviewed after 12 years have been served. Ms O’Leary is terrified of coming face to face with the killer.

“I fought really hard to find a level of peace and safety in my life. At the moment I live in fear of the day that Peter Whelan could be allowed back in Cork, which would definitely mean I'd have to uproot my life completely and move away from my support system and my family, and it's the same for Nichola's family,” she said.

Whelan is a particularly cold-blooded individual, as Sinead previously revealed in great detail what happened on the night she lost her friend.

“He threw me on to the ground. He did not speak, he just had this really intense angry expression on his face.

“I screamed to Nichola as he was stomping on me. She came out and was screaming at him to stop and he turned to her and looked at her really menacingly and lifted up his shirt to show two knives tucked into his belt and to show her what he was about to do.

“He still didn’t say anything, just pulled out the knife and started stabbing down on top of me.

“He launched at her then. The blade had broken in my arm so he lunged with the other knife towards Nichola.”

As Nichola tried to lock herself in the bathroom Sinead realised she would somehow have to get to a phone and call for help.

“I had three stab wounds in my chest, two in the stomach and my arms were really bad in a lot of different places.

“I ran to her parents’ room and then kept going, down the stairs with blood everywhere, it was squirting out of my arm.”

Sinead locked herself in a downstairs bathroom and then heard the man walk past the door. She came out into the darkness not knowing if he was still there and ran to her friend.

Meanwhile, sadistic Whelan, then 19, had gone home two doors away, changed his clothes and had a cigarette with his mother before returning to the scene and asking gardai about events inside.

They recognised him from Sinead’s description and arrested him. He told them: “It’s a pity I did not do more.”

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