Whelan family call for change in system

The heartbroken family of a mother and her young daughters who were murdered on Christmas Day have called for a change in the parole system.

The heartbroken family of a mother and her young daughters who were murdered on Christmas Day have called for a change in the parole system.

Sharon Whelan and her two daughters Zara (7) and Nadia (2) were murdered at their home in Windgap on Christmas Day 2008.

Brian Hennessy was given three life sentences for the murders in 2009 after he entered a guilty plea just before the trial was about to begin.

However in 2010 he succeeded in his uncontested application to the Court of Criminal Appeal to have all three life sentences run concurrently.

Sharon’s brother John Whelan speaking on Newstalk last week said that it was “obscene” that jailed killers could able to apply for parole after seven years behind bars, and every year after.

“That’s what families at the moment are faced with every day, the thought that the person who murdered their loved one not just after seven years, but every year after that, is entitled to go before a parole board,” said John Whelan who is vice-chair of AdVIC, an organisation which advocates for victims of homicide.

“Now to us, that is just obscene. Do we want to live in a society where people who have perpetrated these awful crimes can be released after seven, 12, 13 years?,” he said.

Sharon’s father, Christy said that his family had been served a life sentence of their own. “We can’t go to a parole board and say let us off,” he said. We have to do our sentence. And we have to do that for the rest of our lives.”