This Court Ruling must be Challenged, or the Government of the day must bring forward new Legislation; families Deserve to remember their loved ones?

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Woman whose sister & niece were murdered says evil of the likes of Frank McCann must be remembered

  6 hrs ago


Woman whose sister & niece were murdered says evil of the likes of Frank McCann must be remembered

A woman whose sister and niece were murdered has this week backed the Irish Mail on Sunday’s campaign to overturn a recent ruling which prohibits children being named, saying it is ‘very important to keep their names and their personalities to the fore’.a group of people posing for the camera© Provided by Extra.ie

Marian Leonard’s sister Esther and 18-month-old foster daughter Jessica were murdered by Esther’s husband Frank McCann in the autumn of 1992 when he deliberately set fire to their home while they slept.

Because their savage death predates the Children’s Act, Ms Leonard – who spoke to the MoS from Tramore where she was tending her sister and niece’s grave before Christmas – is free to continue publicly using the names of her beloved sister and niece.a man standing in front of a group of people posing for the camera: Marian Leonard (left) backed the Irish Mail on Sunday’s campaign to overturn a recent ruling which prohibits children being named, saying it is ‘very important to keep their names and their personalities to the fore’. Pic: COLIN KEEGAN, COLLINS, DUBLIN.© Provided by Extra.ie Marian Leonard (left) backed the Irish Mail on Sunday’s campaign to overturn a recent ruling which prohibits children being named, saying it is ‘very important to keep their names and their personalities to the fore’. Pic: COLIN KEEGAN, COLLINS, DUBLIN.

Ms Leonard revealed she doesn’t know how she would have coped if the ruling was made when Esther, 36, and Jessica were killed.

‘It is very important to keep their names and their personalities the fore,’ she said.

‘When I think of the families now who can’t use their loved ones’ names my heart goes out to them. Those little people, their lives are so short, and cut short, and not be able to speak about them… If that had happened to me at the time, I really don’t know how would have coped.’

Ms Leonard told how the ruling protects the guilty as their names aren’t out either and [when released] could be living next door to someone and you wouldn’t necessarily know’.

Section 252 of the Children’s Act 2001 provides mandatory and automatic reporting restrictions in the case of ‘any proceedings for offence against a child’.

In October, the Court of Appeal found that these prohibitions extend to children who had died since turned 18.a little girl posing for a photo: Marian Leonard’s sister Esther O’Brien and 18-month-old foster daughter Jessica were murdered by Esther’s husband Frank McCann in the autumn of 1992 when he deliberately set fire to their home while they slept.© Provided by Extra.ie Marian Leonard’s sister Esther O’Brien and 18-month-old foster daughter Jessica were murdered by Esther’s husband Frank McCann in the autumn of 1992 when he deliberately set fire to their home while they slept.

But Ms Leonard told how keeping Esther and Jessica’s names to the fore was so important throughout the terrible aftermath of their horrific deaths.

‘It was one thing during McCann’s trial that usually the defence makes a big, big play of never mentioning the victims’ names, especially if the victim is a child,’ she said. ‘They try to keep the names as far away as possible from being mentioned – and it was one of my issues. The prosecution were wonderful about it when I spoke to them. I said, “I don’t want you to refer to Esther and Jessica as the victims, I want you to refer to them as Esther and Jessica,” so they did, and they named them all the way through.

‘And we were warned of this, the gardaí had said this. And I suppose Jessica was so young she would fall into this category now. If this was happening now, we would not able to mention either Esther or Jessica. I’m not sure even now if I can say their names, I couldn’t tell you definitively. I went through the Act, but I don’t know because sometimes an Act can be retrospective.’

Ms Leonard told of her ‘annoyance and anger’ when she first heard of the court ruling earlier this year and was on the verge contacting Justice Minister Helen McEntee. ‘But then I listened to her when it happened and she said she was going to get this changed as matter of urgency and as soon possible,’ Ms Leonard added.a man wearing a military uniform: Esther O’Brien’s sister told of her ‘annoyance and anger’ when she first heard of the court ruling earlier this year and was on the verge contactingof Justice Minister Helen McEntee. ‘But then I listened to her it happened and she said she was going to get this changed as matter of urgency and as soon possible,’ Ms Leonard added.© Provided by Extra.ie

Esther O’Brien’s sister told of her ‘annoyance and anger’ when she first heard of the court ruling earlier this year and was on the verge of contacting Justice Minister Helen McEntee. ‘But then I listened to her it happened and she said she was going to get this changed as matter of urgency and as soon possible,’ Ms Leonard added.

‘I was thinking Helen would be much the same age Esther was when McCann killed her and they would have similar education and similar drive. I saw a similarity between them and I thought I’m going to reach straight out to her, but then when I heard her speak I thought, “Ah, she’s got this under control” and I do feel confidence in her as the person she is that she will see the wrong in this, because it is hugely wrong.’

In the aftermath of Esther and Jessica’s deaths Ms Leonard told the court how important it is their names are remembered.

‘Thanks to Paul Carney, myself and my daughter and my brother impact statements, which was a bit ahead of it all at the time, and very strongly made the point that we wanted their names remembered.’ According to Ms Leonard, the ruling is just another added way the perpetrator can be protected by the system.

‘The awful thing is if you contravene this, the guilty get off; it’s the usual thing of the defendant being protected by the law and the victims are never protected.

‘The victim is dependent on the Garda work and making sure they have every box ticked and they have to cover every angle of the law, but the defendant can say or do anything, and everyone else they make a step wrong, the case can just fold.’a large brick building with grass in front of a house: Esther and Jessica died on September 4, 1992, at their Dublin house. Frank McCann, who owned a pub in Blessington, Co. Wicklow, triggered a gas cylinder that would go on fire and set their home ablaze as he left for work that morning. It was his fourth attempt at killing them. It was double murder that sent shockwaves around the country. Pic: Collins Photos© Provided by Extra.ie Esther and Jessica died on September 4, 1992, at their Dublin house. Frank McCann, who owned a pub in Blessington, Co. Wicklow, triggered a gas cylinder that would go on fire and set their home ablaze as he left for work that morning. It was his fourth attempt at killing them. It was double murder that sent shockwaves around the country. Pic: Collins Photos

‘First he cut the brake lead in Esther’s car, another time electric blanket went on fire at the end of her bed,’ Ms Leonard said.

‘I suppose the most severe time and the most critical time that could have taken out all Butterfield Avenue was when he severed gas pipes and left the house with pipes exposed and gas coming from them.

‘Esther woke up to the smell gas and got Jessica into the car. She pushed the car out of the driveway and rang Frank from Mum’s house to tell him what happened.’

Ms Leonard’s son James was dying at the time and their minds were already all over the place.

‘You might wonder were we thick or whatever, but my son James was dying at the time and we were all more than distracted,’ she said. ‘We weren’t neglecting Esther and Jessica were with us every turn, but every time something would happen we’d think “more careful”.a group of people standing next to a building: ‘She phoned me later and said she was going to have it out with Frank that night because there was “something going on, that this adoption isn’t going through and he’s not being supportive”,’ Esther O’Brien’s sister said. ‘Remember saying leave it till I get it and I wasn’t going to be there — and that was the last time I spoke her. Whether she had that conversation, I don’t know, but he had his mind made up and plans in place.’ Pic: Collins© Provided by Extra.ie ‘She phoned me later and said she was going to have it out with Frank that night because there was “something going on, that this adoption isn’t going through and he’s not being supportive”,’ Esther O’Brien’s sister said. ‘Remember saying leave it till I get it and I wasn’t going to be there — and that was the last time I spoke her. Whether she had that conversation, I don’t know, but he had his mind made up and plans in place.’ Pic: Collins

Esther was becoming more and more anxious however because she felt the process to adopt Jessica was being hindered. Unbeknownst to her, swimming coach Frank McCann had fathered a child with a 17-year-old with special needs and this was about to become known as a result of the process.

‘She was determined that Jessica’s adoption was being held up and held up and she couldn’t see the reason for it and was pushing that,’ Ms Leonard admitted. ‘I had gone to Tramore and Esther rang as soon as I got down. She had been at my house and we said goodbye and had all the hugs and kisses with Jessica. It took forever to get that child into the car because she had to have another kiss and another kiss and we were doing that as I said goodbye to her.

‘She phoned me later and said she was going to have it out with Frank that night because there was “something going on, that this adoption isn’t going through and he’s not being supportive”. I remember saying leave it till I get it and I wasn’t going to be there — and that was the last time I spoke her. Whether she had that conversation, I don’t know, but he had his mind made up and plans in place.

‘He’s a very evil man and he is the classic dangerous psychopath where you can’t see how he will out and that is my fear. If you saw those photographs of him out [on day release], he’s a big strong man still. He’ll be 60 next March but my God, he would always have had a swimmer physique, but certainly kept his physical attributes up.’a group of people posing for the camera: ‘Esther was all about women’s rights and when she started uptraining women who were unmarried mothers, she gave one-on-one courses with computer skills or interview techniques,’ Esther O’Brien’s sister said. He always objected to this The last person to see Esther alive was one of these young women, who happened to be a neighbour of mine. Pic: Collins© Provided by Extra.ie ‘Esther was all about women’s rights and when she started uptraining women who were unmarried mothers, she gave one-on-one courses with computer skills or interview techniques,’ Esther O’Brien’s sister said. He always objected to this The last person to see Esther alive was one of these young women, who happened to be a neighbour of mine. Pic: Collins

Ms Leonard spoke of her bright and articulate younger sister who had everything to live for before she was so savagely killed and a gorgeous baby girl who brought such fun to their family.

‘I grew up with Esther, she was two years younger than me. I was always minding her, my mother would always say, “Don’t go without Esther”. The only alarm bells that were ringing in relation McCann is that he just did not seem suitable for Esther, and I say suitable in that he was judgemental and conservative – Esther was not.

Esther was all about women’s rights and when she started uptraining women who were unmarried mothers, she gave one-on-one courses with computer skills or interview techniques. He always objected to this. The last person to see Esther alive was one of these young women, who happened to be a neighbour of mine.

Esther was ahead of her time. She was an incredible woman. Jessica was a precocious little girl, full of fun and so bright and of course Esther was stimulating her all the time, she was involved in everything. It doesn’t bear thinking about what that man did to them both.’

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