A new documentary series, Marú inár Measc, on TG4 will air next Wednesday at 9.30pm
Episode 3, airing on June 2, features the family of Sharon Whelan whose body was discovered, along with her two young daughters, on Christmas morning 2008 near the village of Windgap in Kilkenny. Locals had spotted smoke billowing from the home early that morning, and despite members of the community pulling the bodies of Sharon and her daughters, Nadia and Zarah from the blazing house, they were too late. Thought to be an accident at first, it soon emerged there was something much darker at the core of this tragedy.
As the bodies of Sharon and her daughters were pulled from the blaze, therefore preserving their bodies, investigators were able to determine that Sharon had not died of smoke inhalation and had been killed before the fire took place. Crucially, DNA evidence from Sharon’s body soon led Gardaí to a suspect.
Local man Brian Hennessy was known to Sharon and her family. At the time of the murders, he was 23 years old and working as a postman. As the Whelan family struggled to come to terms with the loss of three loved family members, Brian enjoyed his Christmas as normal.
Featuring interviews with Sharon’s parents, Christy and Nancy, and Sharon’s older brother John, this episode lays bare the pain and loss suffered by those who lose family members to murder. Brian Hennessy was handed three life sentences at his trial; these mandatory murder sentences were to run consecutively. On appeal, it was ruled that the sentences would run concurrently. This episode also explores the efforts families of victims must go to keep killers behind bars as they approach parole hearings.
Until very recently, the law deemed that the Whelan family could not name Zarah and Nadia in the media as they were child victims of homicide. If that legislation had remained in place, John, Christy and Nancy would not have been able to share their story in this documentary.
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