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Early release Mum of girl (5) killed in arson attack says killer 'shouldn’t be allowed breathe in air'

"He’s sitting in the sun now relaxing and enjoying himself, while my child is up in a grave"

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Teresa Keane pictured in her home in Boyle County Roscommon with a picture of her daughter, Mari, who died in an arson attack on their home in 2011. Photo: Brian Farrell

Teresa Keane pictured in her home in Boyle County Roscommon with a picture of her daughter, Mari, who died in an arson attack on their home in 2011. Photo: Brian Farrell

Teresa Keane pictured in her home in Boyle County Roscommon with a picture of her daughter, Mari, who died in an arson attack on their home in 2011. Photo: Brian Farrell

THE mother of a five-year-old girl killed in an arson attack has said her killer “shouldn’t be allowed breathe in air” after he walked free from jail.

John Lynch (42) was released from Loughan House open prison last week after serving just nine years for the manslaughter of little Mari Keane-Connolly.

The girl died when Lynch set fire to a house in Boyle, Co Roscommon, nearly 10 years ago in a targeted attack.

Her father Richard Connolly and her two sisters were also in the house at the time but managed to escape.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mari’s mother Teresa Keane said she now fears coming across Lynch after he was released early from prison.

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Little Mari

Little Mari

Little Mari


“The devil would not have done what he done.

“He shouldn’t be allowed breathe in air never mind walk free.

“He’s in Sligo now walking free with his life ahead of him.

“He’s sitting in the sun now relaxing and enjoying himself, while my child is up in a grave.

“She was five years old and never stood a chance. She suffered, personally I don’t even try to imagine it, the thought of how she suffered.

“He’s sitting out in the sun and we’re left looking at a headstone for the rest of our lives,” Ms Keane said.

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She also said that she does not accept Lynch’s remorse for killing her daughter and says that he knew children were in the house when he set it alight in the early hours of October 2, 2011.

“He only did a nine-year sentence. He killed my child for absolutely no reason, he left a child lying on the floor burnt to death, she was alive while she was being burned.

“He’s in Sligo, I’m not too far away and we’re in Sligo sometimes.

“I still have that in my head that if I walk into him, what will I do. It’s sick, I could freeze, I don’t know what I could do.

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The house set alight by John Lynch

The house set alight by John Lynch

The house set alight by John Lynch


“Him saying sorry is no good, you say sorry if you break something, you’re not sorry if you leave a poor child in a coffin.

“He knew the kids were in the house. He lived down the street with his girlfriend at the time, in the same estate.

“He knew the children were there, he knew Richard had them.”

Ms Keane also questioned whether Lynch ever sits down and thinks about the suffering he caused to young Mari as she burnt alive.

The mother said she wasn’t allowed to see her daughter to identify her due to the injuries caused, and that she had to have her mouth swabbed for a DNA match to confirm her daughter’s remains.

“They said that if I see her, I’d never be right again. Him going around with a sad face on him is never, ever going to be good enough.

“He reckons he served his time, but we’ll never get justice for her. He destroyed us.

“The hardest part is pretending everything is normal. I have seven other kids, but not a second or a minute goes by where I don’t think about her, or about how she died, it’s soul destroying.

“He took a part of me I will never get back. There’s no describing the pain.”

Lynch, formerly of Churchview, in Boyle, Co Roscommon, was convicted of the manslaughter of little Mari in June 2012 and received a 13-year-sentence.

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John Lynch walks free from Loughan prison.

John Lynch walks free from Loughan prison.

John Lynch walks free from Loughan prison.


He was also handed two eight-year jail terms for arson and causing serious harm arising from the fatal fire, to run concurrently with the manslaughter sentence.

During the sentencing hearing Judge Anthony Hunt said the case must lie near the top of the manslaughter scale, if not at the top, as he spoke of “the horror” of Mari’s final moments of her young life.

He also described Lynch as being a “violent” man “with an angry disposition."

Evidence was given that Lynch set fire to the house in a bid to exact revenge on an uncle of Mari over a personal dispute involving a woman.

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