Stolen Lives: 239 violent deaths of women in Ireland from 1996 to today

AuthorJennifer O'Connell, Brian Hutton, Adesewa Awobadejo
Published date23 July 2022
Publication titleIrish Times: Web Edition Articles (Dublin, Ireland)
That terrible toll prompted Women's Aid to initiate the Stolen Lives project, and it has shared its research with The Irish Times for this article, written by Jennifer O'Connell, Brian Hutton and Adesewa Awobadejo

In cases where criminal trials are pending we have not given names or details of deaths. This is to comply with legal rules prohibiting publication of material that could prejudice court proceedings.

This should not be considered a finished project and may be added to as more information becomes available.

Readers may find some of the details upsetting.


Marilyn Rynn

Died, aged 41, on December 22nd, 1995

Independent, sporty and sociable Marilyn Rynn, a civil servant at the Department of the Environment with a wide circle of friends, went missing after she got a Nitelink bus home from her office Christmas party on December 22nd, 1995. It wasn't until January 6th, 1996, that her naked body was discovered in Tolka Valley Park, in north Dublin. David Lawler, a local father of one with no previous history of violence, would say later that he raped and strangled her "on spontaneous impulse". He was the first murderer in the history of the State to be convicted on the basis of DNA. He received a life sentence. You can Jennifer O'Connell

Joyce Quinn

Died, aged 44, on January 23rd, 1996

Mother of three Joyce Quinn – "a woman with a broad, warm smile for everyone" – offered her regular customer Kenneth O'Reilly a lift as she drove home from her sweet shop in Milltown, Co Kildare, on a January evening in 1996. He stabbed and raped her, dumping her body at the Curragh. He pleaded guilty to her murder but was never charged with sexual assault, because it could not be determined if she was alive or dead at the time of the rape. "Joyce was as perfect as you can get in the world," her grieving husband, Cmdt Ray Quinn, says. O'Reilly's latest application for parole is due to be heard in 2022. You can and here. JO'C

Stolen Lives: 'I said, 'Where's your mum? She should have been home.' Ray Quinn recalls a terrible day

Mary Molumby

Died, aged 86, on March 8th, 1996

Mary Molumby died after she was attacked with a lump hammer by her 24-year-old grandson, Declan Molumby, who told the Garda he "just freaked out". He was diagnosed with acute schizophrenia and found guilty but insane. Two men at the house in Thurles at the time were also injured. You can JO'C

Sandra Tobin

Died, aged 36, on March 15th, 1996

The body of Sandra Tobin was found in her home in Waterford city after a neighbour noticed a broken window. She was the mother of a seven-year-old child, Jennifer. A former friend, 30-year-old Anthony Butler, was convicted of her murder and sentenced to life. You can JO'C

Noeleen Cawley

Died, aged 39, on April 2nd, 1996

Five children, aged between two and 17, were taken into care after their mother, Noeleen Cawley, was stabbed by their father, Michael Cawley. Three of the children witnessed the stabbing at their home, in Sligo. Noeleen had often threatened to get a barring order against Cawley but never did. He subsequently took his own life. You can JO'C

Alison White

Died, aged 13, on April 14th, 1996

Alison White, a schoolgirl, was found dead with horrific head injuries in scrubland near her home, in Bundoran, Co Donegal. Her neighbour Patrick Granaghan invited her for a walk and attempted to rape her, but she bravely fought him off. He strangled her and bludgeoned her with a large stone. It was a premeditated attack – he had been inviting young people to his home for months. They regarded him as an "Irish Forrest Gump". "He preyed on children's innocence," Alison's father, Tommy, said as Granaghan was convicted of her murder. JO'C

Anne-Marie Duffin

Died, aged 39, on April 15th, 1996

Anne-Marie Duffin, a well-liked Dutch national who worked at a health shop, restaurant and creches in the Tralee area, was stabbed 66 times in broad daylight, in her home in Blennerville, by a 15-year-old boy from the area. Her two teenage sons, Kevin and Timothy, then aged 15 and 13-years-old, discovered her body in the hall when they came home from school. The killer, a friend of the elder of her sons, told the Garda she "did not like him". The boy was 17-years-old when he was convicted and given a life sentence. After the verdict the Duffin family said they would pray for him. Tragically, Anne-Marie's son Kevin Duffin died by suicide in 2008. You can here and here. JO'C

Martina Halligan

Died, aged 33, on May 5th, 1996

Martina Halligan collapsed outside a neighbour's house in Darndale, in north Dublin, after her estranged husband, Michael Halligan, stabbed her seven times. She had a barring order against him. He had returned from England and turned up at the house, where he proceeded to cut the telephone wire before attacking her. He was jailed for life. You can JO'C

Patti Bainbridge

Died, aged 61, on May 6th, 1996

"Loving, tender" Patti Bainbridge, a mother of three, was found shot dead in her home near Mountrath, in Co Laois. Her psychiatrically ill son, Nigel, who was 29, shot her with his father's legally held shotgun. He was found guilty but insane. You can JO'C

Angela Collins

Died, aged 49, on May 7th, 1996

Angela Collins was a very outgoing person who changed after her marriage to Patrick Joseph Collins, whom she met through an Ireland's Own lonely-hearts ad. She had been married for only eight months when she confided in her sister that there were problems in the relationship. Just a few days later he strangled her. PJ Collins, whom the judge described as "a danger to life" and who had a string of other convictions, was convicted of manslaughter and jailed for nine years. JO'C

Patricia Murphy

Died, aged 33, on May 28th, 1996

Patricia Murphy's body was found beside a skip in Glasnevin, near her home in north Dublin. She had been strangled. Her husband was convicted of her murder in December 1998, primarily on the basis of heartbreaking video-link testimony by three of their four small children, who had seen their mother's body in the garage of the family home. One little boy, five at the time of giving evidence, testified to having seen "Daddy hammering Mammy". Patricia's mother, Brigid Behan, said she had beautiful memories of Patricia "which will live with me until the day I die". You can JO'C

Veronica Guerin

Died, aged 37, on June 26th, 1996

The respected Sunday Independent crime journalist was fatally shot six times as she waited at the Newlands Cross traffic lights on Naas Road in west Dublin. She had previously been shot in the leg, assaulted, threatened, intimidated and had shots fired at the house she shared with her husband and young son, as a result of her reporting on the activities of criminal gangs. More than 200 arrests and 39 convictions arose from the investigation into her death, which was described by Bertie Ahern, who would become taoiseach the following year, as an attack on democracy. Paul Ward, a 32-year-old, was found guilty of her murder in November 1998, but this was overturned on appeal. John Gilligan was tried and acquitted. To this day the only person behind bars for her murder is Brian Meehan. JO'C

Maura McKinney

Died, aged 58, on August 5th or 6th, 1996

"Lovely, bubbly" Maura McKinney's five adult children pleaded with a judge not to jail their father, Michael McKinney, after he admitted killing their mother with caustic soda, causing burns to 35 per cent of her body. Suspending the last five years of his eight-year sentence, Justice Carney referred to the children's letter, the couple's history of alcoholism and McKinney's previous good character. You can JO'C

Hannah (Margaret) O'Sullivan

Died, aged 40, on August 18th, 1996

Hannah O'Sullivan was discovered in a pool of blood by her 12-year-old son on the day of her 40th birthday at her home in Tralee, in Co Kerry. She had been stabbed 99 times by a 35-year-old local man, John O'Mahony, whom she had previously accused of rape, withdrawing the allegation a week before the trial. O'Mahony, who admitted manslaughter but denied intent, claimed she had threatened to revive the rape claim. He later lost his appeal against the murder conviction. You can JO'C

Fiona Pender

Last seen, aged 25, on August 23rd, 1996

Vivacious, caring Fiona Pender had returned from London a few months earlier to live in Tullamore, in Co Offaly, when she disappeared from home. She was seven months pregnant. She was last seen early in the morning of August 23rd, 1996, at her flat on Church Street in the town. Afterwards, friends recalled that she had just wanted a secure home for herself and her baby. Last year, on the 25th anniversary of her disappearance, the Garda issued a renewed appeal for information. JO'C

Janet Mooney

Died, aged 29, between September 17th and 19th, 1996

Janet Mooney was murdered by her 33-year-old boyfriend, Laurence Callaghan, in a row over a lump of cannabis worth £5. "I kicked a lovely girl to death," he told the Garda. "When I woke up the following morning I had sex with her. It was only after I had sex with her that I realised she was dead." He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in January 2000 and was jailed for four years. In 2016 Callaghan was struck by a truck and died. JO'C

Geraldine Diver

Died, aged 42, on December 2nd, 1996

Geraldine Diver was found dead from strangulation in her car near a construction site in Clondalkin, in west Dublin. A decade later her husband, John Diver, was acquitted at the Central Criminal Court of her murder, following a decision by the Supreme Court to order a retrial because the Garda had failed to comply with regulations governing the treatment of people in custody. John Diver always maintained his innocence. He was embraced by his children as the verdict was announced. The case is now closed, and nobody else is being sought in connection with Geraldine's death. JO'C

Sophie Toscan du Plantier

Died, aged 39, on December 22nd, 1996

The French documentary maker Sophie Toscan du Plantier was battered to death in west Cork...

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