The late Joyce Quinn from Milltown
A widower whose wife was murdered in 1996 has called for her killer, due for parole soon, to be banned from ever living in Kildare again.
Mother-of-three Joyce Quinn, originally from Kildare town, was murdered by Kenneth O’Reilly after he thumbed a lift from her on January 23, 1996. Her husband Ray Quinn, who still lives in their family home in Milltown and is retired from the army, is calling on the parole board to stipulate that O’Reilly cannot return to live in Kildare on his release.
Joyce Quinn had just closed up her village shop in Milltown when she picked up O’Reilly, who was then 22 and also from Milltown, to give him a lift. It was reported that he then told the 44-year-old to stop the car, stabbed her in the heart and drove the car to a secluded location before raping her and stabbing her in the neck.
Joyce's husband, Ray Quinn with her mother Patricia Wickham
O’Reilly’s trial heard that at the time he raped Mrs Quinn, she was either dying or already dead. Her then 15-year-old son, David, later found her blood-stained, abandoned car at the local school during the search for his mother, who had failed to return home after work on the evening in question.
O’Reilly was sentenced to life in prison in October 1997 for the murder of Mrs Quinn, but he was never prosecuted for her rape because gardai could not prove if she was alive or dead at the time of the assault.
He has spent the last 23 years in jail and was due for a parole review last month, but it was postponed because of a backlog. Her widower, a retired Defence Forces commandant, does not want his wife’s killer to return to Milltown, where he still lives and where his now grown-up children have all decided to settle with families of their own.
Mr Quinn believes O’Reilly is still a threat to society and, in particular, to his own family. He also believes that O’Reilly, who lived not far from his wife’s shop, had gone out with the intention of having sex with her, but killed her so she could not identify him.
“I’m not saying throw away the key,” said Mr Quinn. “But my family are now back living around me in Milltown. The downside is that if O’Reilly gets out we’re right beside him. He had full sexual intercourse with her (Mrs Quinn) and they didn’t know if she was dead or alive at the time.
“Joyce was a good looking woman and here’s a guy who decides ‘I fancy her, I am going to rape her and I’ll kill her so she won’t identify me’. He had been stalking her for about two days and he had planned it all very carefully.
“The knife he used had been sharpened. He was seen in the school yard — the caretaker spoke to him and he had said that he was looking for some lost money. He did that because he wanted the gates open so he could later hide her car.
“Her clothes were violently ripped off her. The undertaker could not use the dress we picked out for her due to the injuries sustained.
“If he comes back to Milltown, everyone here knows he is a sexual predator and murderer. My youngest daughter looks quite like her mum.
“David, my son, was only 15 at the time when he found her car, that was very hard on him. The army were very good and I was advised to get my son out of the area afterwards to help his recovery. We went to Cyprus for a few years.
“David now has a family of his own and a new baby, who he has called Joyce Quinn.”
Speaking of his wife, Mr Quinn recalled “all the things she missed, the birthdays, Christmasses and weddings, and now her grandchildren.”
Mr Quinn added there was precedent already in place for a county ban once a murderer was released from jail, referring to a man who was banned from a couple of Midlands counties.
He said it was up to the parole board to decide if O’Reilly was a candidate for release, but he has requested on behalf of his family that the murderer not be allowed to live in Co Kildare.
“When people are charged in court the judge goes to great trouble to explain to a jury the concept of “reasonable doubt” and that if they have reasonable doubt the accused must be acquitted.
“I hope the parole board would apply the same reasonable doubt concept when considering whether O’Reilly poses a threat to society and that society, and in particular the people of the area, will get the benefit of the doubt, not a self admitted murderous sexual predator.
“Within minutes of committing murder and rape he calmly called to the school caretaker’s house to enhance his alibi, cleaned up, went to the local pub for drinks, was joined by his girlfriend, went by taxi to Newbridge for a meal and then went back to his girlfriend’s house for the night.
“All of this paid for by the money stolen from Joyce.
“A guy with a mindset like that is not in my opinion anyway someone with whom you would like a female friend or relative to be sharing a taxi with, for example.”