Despite confessing to Ann Walsh’s killing, Raymond Donovan remained defiant when gardai charged him with her murder, members of the Walsh family recalled on last week’s Marú inár measc programme.
In fact, Donovan pleaded not guilty to this crime, arguing it wasn’t premeditated.
Ann’s brother Stephen Walsh was present for all of the trial which began on May 26, 2006.
“It was hard. Ann was now gone, dead, buried never to be seen again. Raymond Donovan was still sitting there breathing, still alive, denying what he did, putting us through hell.
“He was dragging and dragging it out. He never showed one bit of remorse throughout every bit of it. Throughout the whole trial he tried to claim he wasn’t in the right frame of mind.
“They were saying he didn’t mean to kill her, they were having sex in the back of the church and he had his hands around her neck and next thing was he couldn’t wake her up, which was lies.
“He dragged Ann from across the opposite side of the church where there is a grotto by the head into waste ground. He strangled her and killed her.”
“After killing her, he took her clothes off from her waist down, folded them neatly putting her shoes first and then her pants and underwear.”
“What shocked me was knowing the fight she put up. Ann was very thin. I can picture him keeling on her chest and strangling her. Kneeling on her chest, choking her and Ann fighting for her life.
“No matter how strong a woman thinks she is, a man is always stronger.
“I knew he would be found guilty of murder and not manslaughter.”
Not only did Raymond Donovan take Ann’s life, Mary said he took their lives away as well.
Cecilia Ni Choileain, barrister, explained murder is when someone kills another person where there is a deliberate intention to kill or seriously injure their victim.
“There doesn’t have to be any planning involved. I think Raymond tried to show that the killing was not planned, that it happened spontaneously.
“But according to the law, if you hurt someone and you have an intention to hurt or kill, and if that person dies, then that is classed as murder.”
Ann Walsh recalled during the trial Raymond Donovan didn’t say anything and let his solicitor do everything for him.
“He just had his hands down on his knees and never showed any bit of remorse, not a thing.”
Raymond Donovan’s solicitor told the judge the accused needed psychiatric help.
Sean Donovan told the court that he believed his brother intended to die by suicide that night and that this was in fact a call for help.
He also told the court his brother had previously attempted suicide. Sean told his brother that he would meet him and he found him in a state of distress.
Sean hugged his brother, told him people were coming and everything would be sorted.
Ms Ni Choileain said that deputy state pathologist, Dr Michael Curtis testified to the court that the post mortem found Ann died from manual strangulation.
Superintendent Joseph McKeown said Ann was brutally and viciously killed, describing it as a cowardly act.
After deliberating for three hours and fourteen minutes at the end of a seven-day trial in the Central Criminal Court, Ennis, the jury found Raymond Donovan guilty of Ann Walsh’s murder. He was given a life sentence.
Sinead Ni Uallachain said Raymond displayed no emotion whatsoever after the verdict.
After the case, Stephen said they knew regardless of the sentence Raymond Donovan received, he is still alive, but there was no coming back for Ann.
Shortly after his sentence, Stephen said Raymond appealed the severity of the life sentence but wasn’t successful.
“We were standing outside the gate when he was coming out of the court and he stuck up his middle finger to the press. The older I got, the more hurt I became over what he did to her and what it has done to our family.
“My father was a worker for his family. He did two or three jobs so we could have food on the table and we could go to things. For a person who was constantly on the go, he doesn’t leave the house now only to visit the grave rain, sleet or snow, or go to the shop. He just wants to be on his own, it is hard to see him go like that.”
Mary said the fog following Ann’s death is always there.
“I miss her terribly, I wonder would she have had kids, what she would have been like. My life will never be the same.”
Ten years after his imprisonment, Raymond Donovan was granted permission to visit his family and has since been allowed out on several day visits.
Under legislation, the Justice Minister is permitted to release a prisoner on short or temporary release once they have served part of their sentence.
Ms Ni Choileain said there a number of reasons for this including the fact the prisoner will be released eventually so the authorities must prepare them to rejoin the community
“This is certainly difficult for any family who lost someone in an incident and then have the perpetrator living nearby.
“It affects the family to see that person out and about and maybe in shops.”
Stephen revealed the family has never been informed about Raymond Donovan’s movements outside of prison without asking for information first.
“Seventeen years on, we are still the same as if it only happened yesterday. Moreso down to the justice system and the fact that you can kill someone and after seven years can be eligible for parole. It was a joke.”
“To make a family write in letters every two years brings it all back up. Not that we were ever going to forget about it. They know what he should be kept there. He wouldn’t be there in the first place if he didn’t do what he did.
“We are left in the dark fighting Ann’s corner. I reckon that Raymond Donovan would be walking the streets only for the fighting we did.
“He can still get out of prison, which is wrong. He can still enjoy some taste of life. Ann’s life is taken, she is gone. She missed out on a lot of things in life becoming a hairdresser, having kids seeing her nieces and nephews.”
After spending 17 years in prison, Raymond Donovan will soon be eligible for parole. His possible release could see him back on the streets of Kilrush.
Mary said this is shocking. “All we can do is write letters and express our feelings to say he shouldn’t get it. Raymond Donovan being released plays on my mind many times a day. It is crazy to get a call to say he is due for release next week. I think I would panic if I saw him.
“When Ann got killed 17 years ago, I remember I was afraid to walk when it got dark. I had that fear of someone going to catch me. I 100% think the murderer gets treated better than victims.
“They get all the help, mental help, doctors. We are just left in the background suffering. No one sees or feels our pain.”