John Joe Malone (file).
A 'cold case' investigation has solved a 30-year-old Kilkenny murder after a jury returned a guilty verdict against a man for strangling an elderly woman to death before setting her house on fire.
John Joseph Malone (53), of Newpark, Kilkenny City was found guilty today of the murder of 69-year-old Ann 'Nancy' Smyth on September 11, 1987 at her home on Wolfe Tone Street, Kilkenny.
The Central Criminal Court jury of seven men and five women returned their unanimous verdict after three hours and 26 minutes of deliberating. The foreman of the jury confirmed the verdict was unanimous.
Malone, who was on bail when the trial began, had his bail revoked last week after he was seen shouting abuse at the home of 81-year-old Eileen Kelly days before she was due to give evidence against him.
After the guilty verdict was revealed Justice Patrick McCarthy delayed sentencing to allow Ms Smyth's family to make a statement to the court. Awaiting his sentence, Malone wept and was comforted by members of his family.
When the court resumed Desmond Murphy, a nephew of the deceased, choked back tears.
"What happened to Nancy on that night had a major effect on all members of our family."
He said it was wonderful to get to this moment.
"Closure is there," he said.
Justice Patrick McCarthy then asked Malone to stand and he told him: "The law prescribes only one sentence and that is imprisonment for life. I hereby impose that sentence upon you." Thanking the jurors, he exempted them from further service for ten years.
The investigation into Ms Smyth's death received a boost in 2012 when, following an appeal for information that was recommended by the Serious Crime Review Team, several witnesses came forward. Each of them told gardai that Malone, the chief suspect, had confessed to Nancy Smyth's murder.