Grieving mum whose daughter was strangled by evil thug will never get over murder

‘He gave her a brutal death.. It’s very painful’

Raymond Donovan is taken from Kilrush Court in 2005© Arthur Ellis

Ann Walsh© Arthur Ellis

Eugene MastersonSunday World

A grieving mother whose young daughter was strangled to death by an evil thug in a churchyard has said the family will never get over her brutal murder.

Ann Walsh was aged just 23 when her on-off boyfriend Raymond Donovan strangled his then former girlfriend to death in the grounds of St Senan’s Church, in Kilrush, Co. Clare, in August 2005.

Ann had been going out with vicious Donovan for three years but had split from him a year previous to the attack.

Donovan, from Cooraclare, received the mandatory life sentence for murder in June 2006.

“This is her pants that she wore on that night,” her mother Ann reveals on a Virgin Media documentary about domestic violence, Until Death.

Ann Walsh© Arthur Ellis

“That was the string that was inside the loop of the pants, that was pulled off her. She was only small, how could she protect herself?

“She couldn’t protect herself, no. You could see her two knees on the pants, where she was trying to protect herself.

“She was trying to fight Donovan, Raymond Donovan, but she couldn’t, she hadn’t the strength."

"Ann started seeing Donovan when she was 20. She met him here in a carnival here in town, he was working for the funfair there. I suppose the years were going on and they were on and off,” recalls Stephen.

“I do recall a few nights with Ann hiding what I now know would have been black eyes. He stuck her head into the toilet one time. He stuck her head into the sink, he used to beat her.”

The beatings continued.

“She would come home the odd time and you’d see a bruise on her and she’d say she hit if off a door, or she fell down the stairs. You’d believe her and you wouldn’t question it any further,” recollects her sister Mary.

When the couple broke up, Donovan continued to torment her with threatening phone calls..

The family were due to go to holiday to Spain and Ann got her first passport, the photograph of which would appear on her headstone.

She was carefree the night she died.

“She came home and she said ‘Mary do you like my hair’ and I said ‘it’s lovely’. And she went uptown with another friend and that was the last I seen of Ann, until she was at home in a coffin,” sighs Mary.

Raymond Donovan is taken from Kilrush Court in 2005© Arthur Ellis

Stephen remembers meeting her that night outside a bar in the town and borrowing a tenner off her to go to a local disco.

“I went to the disco, came home that night and it was around five past one when and two guards came to the door and said Ann had been involved in an accident. So, I knew straight away. I ran down the stairs and said ‘it was Raymond Donovan’. They told us it was, and they told us she was dead,” he recollects.

“They were seen in a pub up the town and they were arguing. It looked like, the guard said, him throwing abuse at her.”

“They came down John Street, which leads on to the church. He dragged her by the hair around to the rear of it. And he strangled her. She was brutally and viciously murdered,” he says.

“Next morning he was here in court in Kilrush. All his face was destroyed. I mean she tore him, you could see his face was all marked.

“To see him with all the marks on him, and bloodstains. Sad really. Even to look how thin and frail she was, sad. Too much.”

Until Death concludes tonight at 9pm on Virgin Media One.

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