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No forgiveness Evil arsonist who killed tot (5) in blaze freed from jail after just nine years

Mari’s dad Richard told us: “He’ll not be forgiven by me or anyone in our family ever"


John Lynch walks free from Loughan prison.

John Lynch walks free from Loughan prison.

John Lynch walks free from Loughan prison.

The father of a five-year-old girl burnt to death by evil killer John Lynch in an arson attack says he will never forgive him as the beast was released from prison this week.

Our exclusive pictures show the moment child-killer Lynch was released from Loughan House open prison in Cavan at 8.26am on Monday morning.

Sources said Lynch, who served just nine years in prison for setting the blaze that claimed the life of little Mari Keane Connolly in Boyle, Roscommon 10 years ago, had hoped to slink out of the prison unnoticed.

But a Sunday World team was watching and photographing him as he was escorted on foot to the facility’s gates by a number of prison officers.

Spotting our people, Lynch did his best to conceal his identity by holding a hand up to his masked face.

Then, after getting into a white Audi driven by a female, he was taken back to Sligo town where it’s understood he has remained while he sets himself up for a new life.


John Lynch at court in 2012.

John Lynch at court in 2012.

John Lynch at court in 2012.

However, there is no such ‘second chance’ for the child whose life was stolen from her by Lynch.

And, speaking with the Sunday World, Mari’s dad Richard told us: “He’ll not be forgiven by me or anyone in our family ever.

“But he’s out now, after just nine years, and that’s the justice Mari got. In my eyes he should have spent the rest of his life in prison.”

Evil Lynch was convicted of the manslaughter of little Mari in June 2012 and received a 13-year-sentence, and two eight-year concurrent sentences for arson and causing serious harm arising from the fatal fire on October 3, 2011.

During sentencing, Judge Anthony Hunt said the case must lie near the top of the manslaughter scale, if not at the top, and he spoke of ‘the horror’ of the final moments of the little girl.

Roscommon Circuit Court heard how Lynch set fire to the house in a bid to exact revenge on an uncle of the deceased child, who he had found lying on a bed, fully clothed, with his girlfriend, following a house party on August 21.


Lynch got into a white Audi and was driven from the prison.

Lynch got into a white Audi and was driven from the prison.

Lynch got into a white Audi and was driven from the prison.

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Lynch, who was described by Judge Anthony Hunt as being “violent, with an angry disposition”, tried to assault the uncle in a nightclub in Carrick-on-Shannon on October 2.

The court heard Lynch had been celebrating his birthday with an alcohol and cocaine binge.

Lynch was still angry when he went home with his girlfriend and assaulted her, using a steel curtain pole to beat her, breaking her jaw and inflicting other injuries.

Lynch then drove to a house at Termon Road, which belonged to the uncle’s brother.

The uncle, who had been staying at the house, was not there and the front door had been left open for him.

Lynch entered the house and set it on fire at about 2.30am. Mari’s dad Richard Connolly was asleep upstairs.

The little girl and her two sisters were staying with him as his ex-partner was in hospital giving birth to twins that weekend.

The court heard how Richard managed to get the children out on to a roof, but he suffered serious spinal injuries when he jumped to the ground and landed on concrete steps.

He managed to persuade two of his daughters to jump on top of him, but Mari was too afraid and went back inside the house.

The court was told that her body was found shortly after 5am.

DNA evidence had to be used to identify her. Judge Hunt said that Mari was conscious and aware of what was happening before she died in the fire.


Little Mari

Little Mari

Mari's father Richard Connolly.

Mari's father Richard Connolly.


Little Mari

“The depths of terror in her final moments defy imagination,” he said.

He dismissed Lynch’s claim that he did not know anyone was in the house.

The judge said he could not impose the maximum 18-year sentence because of mitigation, which included a guilty plea and remorse.

Instead, he imposed a sentence of 13 years but as Lynch automatically qualified for remission of 25 per cent, his effective sentence for killing the tot came to just over nine years.

He also imposed two eight-year concurrent sentences for the arson and for causing serious harm to Richard Connolly on October 3, 2011.

Richard this week told the Sunday World that he had utterly disagreed with the judge’s decision to reduce the manslaughter sentence on account of Lynch showing remorse and also the decision to make the arson and assault sentences concurrent.

“When he was initially arrested afterwards, he denied being responsible,” Richard said. “If he was so filled with remorse, why didn’t he put his hands up then?

“He wrote a letter of apology to us, but he only did that when he was on remand in Castlerea awaiting trial for killing Mari.

“The guards asked me if I wanted to read it and I told them they could put it in the bin for all I cared.

“I don’t accept his remorse.

“The judge also ruled that the eight-year sentences for the arson and for what he did to me should be concurrent.

“So, he didn’t spend a day extra in prison for setting that fire or for what he did to me.

“But that’s our justice.

“And even if you accept that that’s OK, which I do not, there’s also the fact that he has been released now with no conditions whatsoever.

“He doesn’t have to sign on and there’s no monitoring of him whatsoever.

“That’s not right — and nothing is right in this since the night he did what he did."

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