AuthorRosita Boland
Published date19 February 2022
Publication titleIrish Times (Dublin, Ireland)
The men were caught in Galway on September 26th, 1976, while planning a third abduction. They both received life sentences and became known as the State's first serial killers

Shaw is Ireland's longest-serving prisoner. Evans died, age 68, from sepsis in St Mary's Hospital in the Phoenix Park on May 20th, 2012, where he had been in a coma for several years following a stroke after heart bypass surgery in December 2008.

Shaw is now 75 and is still detained in Arbour Hill Prison. Repeated requests for his full release have been rejected, and in January this year it was reported that Shaw is bringing a fresh legal challenge to avail of two days' escorted release annually, which he was granted in 2016 and has since not been allowed to do on grounds that he still poses a danger to women.

The pact Aged 31 and 32 respectively,

Shaw and Evans arrived together in Ireland in late 1974. They were both from the Greater Manchester area. Shaw, who had long black hair and a beard, had been married, but the marriage had since collapsed. He had had a criminal record since the age of 14, starting with burglary. He was illiterate, later signing his statements with an X.

Evans who was small and fair, had been married and had three children. His marriage too had broken down. By the time they met in prison in England and formed their toxic camaraderie, they had dozens of burglary convictions between them.

Both men had also committed sexual assaults, including rape; crimes to which they were linked, but had not yet been charged, including the rape of a 16-year-old girl. While in prison, they concocted their plan. At some time in the future, when they were free again, they would conspire together as a pair to fulfil their joint fantasy of abducting, raping and murdering women.

On release from prison in England, they decided to travel to Ireland, and thus avoid any new charges being laid against them back home. In Ireland, they at once set about a number of house burglaries to raise money, first in Co Wicklow and then in the Cork and Clonmel areas.

On February 5th, 1975, they appeared at Cork Circuit Court on 16 counts of burglary. They were convicted and sentenced separately; each got two years. They were later transferred from Cork to Mountjoy Prison. Neither served their full sentence.

In August 1976, they both appeared in Dublin's Bridewell. The British police were seeking to extradite them to answer charges for the sexual assault and rape cases they were now linked to. The pair were released on a bond of £40, and given one month to prepare a case as to why they should not be extradited.

In Mountjoy, they had befriended a fellow prisoner named Cliff Outram, who was released before them. He had invited them to his home in Fethard, Co Tipperary. It's there they went after their own release, first Shaw, and then Evans, who arrived some days later by train. Outram had access to a car, a grey Austin A40. The pair asked him if they could borrow it for a few days, and he agreed to get the car for them.

Thus Shaw and Evans got into the Austin and drove north. They had made their pact, and they were now ready to execute it.

The abduction of Elizabeth Plunkett

Elizabeth Plunkett (23) lived at Pembroke Cottages in Ringsend, Dublin. One of eight siblings, she had three sisters and four brothers. She worked for the De La Rue printing firm as a currency clerk. In her spare time, she liked to swim, hike, practise judo, and was keen on camping and the outdoors. She was dark-haired, vivacious, and by all accounts, a confident young woman. She had a boyfriend of five months; Damien Bushe, a mechanic, whom she had met through his sister; a close work colleague. The summer of 1976 in Ireland was unusually hot, with unbroken weeks of sunshine, when everyone was enjoying the weather. On Saturday, August 28th, the couple had made plans to go to Staunton's Caravan Park in Brittas Bay for the weekend with five other friends, travelling in two cars.

On arrival at Brittas, the group of friends went for drinks in McDaniels pub; a place that could hold 800 people. Plunkett was wearing wedge sandals, white slacks and a navy jumper with the words St Tropez on it: she had recently been on holiday in St Tropez with Bushe's sister; a special holiday that they had saved up for. She was also wearing a Seiko watch that she had received for her 21st birthday.

Over the course of the evening, there was a fairly ordinary and unremarkable row about the sale of a car between Bushe and another friend, Joe McCoy, but the row became lengthy. When their conversation didn't change subject, even after she intervened, Plunkett got up and left the bar by herself. A witness reported seeing her come out of the pub at 11pm. She was seen again walking in the direction of Staunton's Caravan Park about five minutes later.

Later, giving evidence in court to an all-male jury, Bushe stated: "Liz came over and told us we came down for a good weekend, and should not be fighting. I just told her to mind her own business and she left; she went out." He wept as he told the court that this was the last time he ever saw her alive.

Shaw and Evans had driven to Co Wicklow, first stopping en route to collect a suitcase belonging to Evans which he had stored in a locker at Heuston Station. They knew the Wicklow area from previous burglaries, and happened to be driving though Brittas on that evening. "We had been talking about girls and Geoff said he was going to pick up a bird and have it off with her. He wanted a small bird," Shaw said later.

They saw Plunkett leaving the...

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