THE family of a Kilrush woman who was murdered 17 years ago has welcomed the transfer of her killer from an open to a closed prison, writes Dan Danaher.
The Clare Champion has learned that Raymond Donovan was recently transferred from Shelton Abbey Open Centre to Castlerea Prison, which is a closed medium security prison.
It is understood that Donovan was transferred to a closed prison after allegedly contravening prison rules.
Ann Walsh from Pella Road, Kilrush, was 23 years and four months old when she was strangled by her former boyfriend, Raymond Donovan from Cooraclare in the grounds of St Senan’s Church, Kilrush on August 24, 2005.
Donovan was convicted of her murder at the Central Criminal Court in Ennis with Mr Justice Paul Carney imposing a mandatory life sentence following a unanimous guilty verdict by a jury.
Ann had been going out with Donovan for three years but had split from him a year previous to the attack.
Her brother, Stephen Walsh said Donovan must have done something that prison authorities were not happy with that prompted his recent transfer.
“To get that phone call about his transfer was like winning the national lottery. It was a huge weight off of our shoulders. A prisoner doesn’t go from an open prison into a closed prison for doing nothing. He has gone backwards.”
Mr Walsh said murders are taking place on a regular basis in Ireland because the perpetrators are only getting a “slap on the wrist” for taking a human life.
He said the only crumb of comfort for the family is any convicted killer of her daughter will not be allowed to go before the parole board until at least 12 years of their sentence has elapsed following a successful campaign to increase this from seven years.
Recalling the Walsh family was part of this campaign, he said they had to write to the parole board opposing Donovan’s release every two years after he served seven years until the law was recently changed.
He said anyone who sets out to kill another person should, on conviction be put behind bars for the rest of their lives, which would act as a proper deterrent.
“The Ashling Murphy murder brought the trauma of my sister’s death back to us again. Ashling was the same age, 23, as Ann when she was killed. It really hit home.
“The Murphy family are now facing years of torture. We know because we have been through it. It is wrong to be using the term life sentence when it isn’t life. The loss we feel about Ann’s death is as raw today as it was when it happened.”