Life Sentence Handed Down for Thomas Street Murder

A 30-year-old Tipperary man has been jailed for life for murdering a mother-of-four at a Waterford city centre location, having initially met her at an addiction treatment centre.
Samantha Walsh had just returned home from an AA meeting and had no alcohol in her system when Danny Whelan beat her to death while he was high on drugs.Whelan, of no fixed abode but originally from Thurles, was due to go on trial at the Central Criminal Court earlier last week, charged with murdering Ms Walsh in an apartment in Waterford City.
Instead, he pleaded guilty last week to murdering the 31-year-old on or about April 28th of last year at an address in Thomas Court on Thomas Street in Waterford. He was back before Mr Justice Michael White on Friday for his sentencing hearing.Detective Sergeant Donal Donoghue told John O’Kelly SC (prosecuting), that he had seen blood on the walls around the bed where Ms Walsh’s body was found that afternoon. There was also a lot of blood staining on the sheets, in particular around her head, he said.

He confirmed a forensic exam indicated that she was assaulted in the immediate head area, with the pattern of blood indicating the swinging of some form of bloodstained weapon.
He explained that Whelan had met Ms Walsh at the Cuan Mhuire addiction treatment centre in Bruree, County Limerick in 2016. She moved home to Waterford on completion of her programme but they stayed in contact through letters he sent to her at her father’s home in the city. Whelan eventually relocated to Waterford.They moved, as squatters, into the apartment where he murdered her about a week before the killing. There was evidence from their neighbours that they had a volatile relationship, with shouting and screaming heard coming from their room.
The Gardaí were called to the flat twice that week and, on each occasion, they convinced Whelan to leave. However, they later made up and he moved back in.

The late Samantha Walsh. Danny Whelan, of no fixed abode but originally from Thurles, pleaded guilt to Ms Walsh's murder.

The late Samantha Walsh. Danny Whelan, of no fixed abode but originally from Thurles, pleaded guilt to Ms Walsh's murder.

Whelan attended a Narcotics Anonymous meeting the night before he killed Ms Walsh. He then bought vodka and cider before returning home. He visited his neighbours, who described him as angry and unsettled. Referring to Ms Walsh, he said: ‘I hate the b**ch’. He drank a naggin of vodka before leaving.Ms Walsh attended an AA meeting that night, returning home 20 minutes after her killer. Two hours later, she rang Whelan’s friend and asked him to speak to him. She complained that Whelan was ‘going mad’, and his friend could hear Whelan ‘roaring in the background’.
The two men spoke, but Ms Walsh continued to say that Whelan was going mad and breaking up the place. She also said: “He’s killing me”. Whelan’s friend advised her to get out of there.
However, the coroner estimated her time of death to be about 40 minutes after the phone call, at 1am. When paramedics found her body at 3pm the following day, rigor mortis had already set in.
CCTV captured Danny Whelan leaving the building at 2am, walking through the city centre and returning a few minutes later.He called to his neighbour at 9am, telling him that Ms Walsh had left at 7am to visit her children and that she wouldn’t be back for a week.The two men collected their dole and bought heroin before returning to the neighbour’s apartment to smoke it.
This man and his partner later called the emergency services, who found Whelan unconscious, having overdosed. While they were treating him, a paramedic discovered a note addressed to his father, indicating that he’d murdered Ms Walsh and that she was in the bedroom.

Whelan had regained consciousness by the time the Gardaí found her body. He told them she was dead since the previous night.
“I hit her with a hammer. It’s in the river,” he said. “I threw in the river. She’s dead. I killed her last night.”
There was evidence of a cleanup; the Man United jersey he’d been wearing the previous night was discovered in the bathroom sink, where the water was still running. However her blood was found on it.An autopsy revealed that Ms Walsh died of blunt force trauma to her head and face, with haemorrhage, inhalation of blood and brain swelling. She had 10 lacerations on head and face and her nasal bones were fractured.Neck compression was a contributing factor in her death; a ligature mark was found on her neck and there was a fracture of the hyoid bone.
No weapon was ever recovered, despite the sub aqua unit searching the river.

The sergeant said he 30-year-old had first come to Garda attention 18 years ago and had 73 previous convictions, including for burglary, aggravated burglary and possession of a knife. He had received an eight-year sentence in 2014, but part of it was suspended and he was released in 2016, the year he met Ms Walsh.
Det Sgt Donoghue confirmed that, while in custody in the Midlands Prison, Whelan penned a letter to Ms Walsh’s father, Raymond, admitting what he had done and apologising.
Under cross-examination by Michael Delaney SC, defending, he agreed that a pharmacy had dispensed a large quantity of painkillers, tranquilisers and sleeping tablets to Whelan a few days before the murder. Other witnesses stated that he had taken the medication over those days.He also agreed that Whelan had referred to using an ashtray in his note, and not a hammer.
Ms Walsh’s brother, Raymond Walsh, then delivered a victim impact statement on behalf of her family. He began by holding up a photograph of his sister.“This is my sister, Samantha Walsh. She’s not just a name on a piece of paper,” he said.He described her as a loving daughter, mother, sister and auntie, who always had a smile on her face. He said she had a kind and helpful nature and was beautiful, inside and out.

He said that she was old-fashioned and sentimental and would often write letters to her family. She wore her heart on her sleeve.
He said that she had achieved a lot in her short life, most notably her four children. He said that her greatest role in life was that of an adoring and loving mother, who was so proud of her children. He said she loved nothing more than snuggling up with her four babies.He said that all four talk about their “Mummy with love” and said that these amazing children were “testament to her unconditional love”.

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