‘I was black and blue, he pulled lumps of hair out of my head’ – Irish women recall horrific assaults in the wake of Sarah Everard case
Mary Lynch. Photo: David Conachy
March 11 2021 06:31 PM
Women have opened up about their experience of being assaulted in the wake of the Sarah Everard case.
The 33-year-old’s disappearance has highlighted the dangers women face when out alone and has sparked a national debate.
A police officer remains in custody in relation to Ms Everard’s disappearance. The Met Police said that remains had been found in an area of woodland in Ashford in Kent by detectives investigating the case.
Today Joe Duffy received several phone calls to LiveLine from women who spoke of their own personal experience of how they had been subjected to horrific attacks – often by men who were currently on bail for another offence.
- ‘She brought so much joy to our lives’ – family of Sarah Everard pay tribute as they appeal for information
- ‘I looked like a patchwork quilt, I had been cut to pieces’ – woman says man who left her with life-changing injuries and killed her friend shouldn’t be released
- Mary Lynch: I thought I was going to die on night of my attack
Mary Lynch, a female taxi driver was attacked by Jerry McGrath in April 2007 before he went on to murder Sylvia Roche Kelly, told of the ongoing impact that it has on her, and the immense anxiety she still feels.
“I lock all my doors inside. Every single door is locked at night time,” she said.
Speaking about the attack, Ms Lynch said: “He kicked me into the car, he bit me on my bare skin and he tried choking me, I was black and blue – he pulled lumps of hair out of my head.”
Sinead O’Leary told her horrifying story of being stabbed 20 times by Peter Whelan – a man who murdered her friend Nichola Sweeney after breaking into her family home as the two were getting ready for a night out on April 27, 2002.
Ms O’Leary said she had to work hard to “regain peace” after the traumatising attack that happened almost 19 years ago.
However, she said the past two years have been harrowing for her as Whelan had temporary day releases and parole hearings.
“I worked hard to regain peace… to find out he was back was absolutely devastating and traumatising,” she said.
“The last two years were horrendous. I wouldn’t feel safe with him back in Cork. It’s very intimidating.”
Another woman recounted her experiencing trying to escape a man who exposed himself in front of her on a bus and then later pursued her.
The woman, Catherine, spoke to RTÉ’s LiveLine about a man who had 200 past convictions.
Catherine said he had gotten on a bus and the man had sat beside her. He immediately began to touch himself while looking at her.
In distress, she left the bus, saying in hindsight she would have alerted the bus driver to the situation. Although she was off the bus, she was not yet safe, as the man got off a few stops later and began to walk back towards her.
Catherine would later come to learn that the man was a serial sex offender.
“He’s a maniac. He shouldn’t be let out on the streets, ever. The system is just wrong.”
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has reminded the public of their services, saying “so many survivors [are] telling their stories today which we know can be triggering.”
“Please remember support services are available if you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence. RCC 24-Hour Helpline 1800 77 8888.”