Frank McCann was sentenced to two life sentences in 1996, for the murder of his wife Esther and his 18-month-old niece Jessica
Frank McCann was sentenced to two life sentences in 1996, for the 1992 murder of his wife Esther and his 18-month-old niece Jessica, who the couple planned to adopt.
McCann murdered his wife and niece by burning down their Rathfarnham home, after details about a child he fathered with a 17-year-old swimming student with special needs came to the surface.
In the run-up to the killings, he had concocted a series of fake threats against him and daubed paint on his pub that said, ‘Burn, you bastard’. It later transpired he had made three other unsuccessful attempts to kill them, including one where the brakes on Esther’s car failed.
Last month, Independent.ie revealed that McCann, now 62-years-old, was on day release from Mountjoy Prison and he was photographed walking alone and unsupervised to a charity-run training centre in the south inner city, where it is understood he is doing a course to assist people with a criminal conviction.
Esther McCann’s sister Marian Leonard said they were informed by the Prison Service that McCann is due to come before the Statutory Parole Board by the end of the year and he has been granted “dusk ‘til dawn release” since the middle of June.
“He’s as big and as strong and as athletic looking really as he ever was,” Marian Leonard told RTÉ’s Liveline programme.
“Menacing looking to me anyway, and you wouldn’t notice him walking around the streets…He’s just out without restrictions is what we were told on dawn ‘til dusk release.”
Ms Leonard said her family members are “getting there with accepting” that he will be released someday, but they and Frank McCann’s brother Bernard, who spoke out against him, will be “looking over our shoulders”.
She said “no one knows what he is capable of going forward” nor does anyone know “what is in his mind”.
“Bernard is also in fear of his own life because McCann threatened him,” she said.
“We don’t know what’s in his mind. I’ve certainly been a thorn in his side for a number of years and if he has any thoughts of revenge on the McCann family we don’t know and there’s no way of predicting it.”
Ms Leonard said before the horrific double-murder, Frank McCann was “always in control”, “very calculating, very organised, very disciplined” but when things do not go his way, he can be unpredictable.
She explained that after her last appearance on the programme, McCann, who was then in Arbour Hill Prison, “threw a tantrum” and refused to leave his cell.
Marian said he repeated this pattern of behaviour later, while he was in Mountjoy Prison, and when her daughter, also named Esther, appeared on an RTÉ programme about the murders.
Marian argued that he should serve a “whole life sentence”.
“Especially for somebody who has killed a child and I know it sounds awful to say I’m leaving my sister Esther out of it, but for someone who kills a child whole life should mean whole life,” she said.
“He will be out on license…he can’t leave the country. I can’t see him tucking himself away in a cottage in Donegal or something. He’ll be around the city. He’s entitled to council, social housing.
“He never expressed either remorse, apologised or guilt.”
Speaking on the same programme Marian’s daughter Esther, who was a child at the time of the murders, said the whole family was in shock “that something so horrific and awful could have happened”.
Esther said her brother was terminally ill with cancer at the time and McCann “stole the last few months of his life” too.
“My brother ended up having to live with all of this tragedy and awfulness in the last few months of his life,” she said.
“There was so much that (McCann) did that was just completely inhuman and unthinkable.”
Her mother added: “I won’t let up…it’s not a legacy that you want to hand on to your family, but it is our legacy that he gave us.
“They [people] need to be afraid of him. Who could have envisaged that someone would solve an issue of adoption by killing his wife and child? If he had known my sister, he could have spoken to her. They’d have come to a resolution. She was the most forgiving person in world.”