Doomed to depravity - the Mulhall sisters

The killing and dismemberment of Farah Swaleh Noor by the Mulhall sisters started with a family 'poisoned by drugs, drink and violence'. By Justine McCarthy . PLUS Irish murders in 2006


It took the sisters "a few hours" to dismember Farah Swaleh Noor's body in the house their mother had shared with him in the Summerhill district of Dublin's north inner city. It is unclear from the evidence heard in the murder trial where Kathleen Mulhall was or what she was doing throughout all those hours while her firstborn child, Linda, was in the shower chipping away at the dead man's body with a hammer and her second-youngest child, Charlotte, sitting on the toilet seat, was using a kitchen knife to saw off Farah Swaleh's legs.

It was three days after St Patrick's Day last year that Kathleen Mulhall, according to the account given in court, instructed her daughters to "please, just kill him for me". By then, the father of at least one of Linda's four children, a man with a "very violent" record, was in jail for physically assaulting her children. The sisters' two brothers were also in jail at the time when Noor's headless torso, covered in 22 stab wounds, was discarded in the Royal Canal.

James Mulhall, the oldest brother, who was then aged 33, was serving a three-year sentence in Wheatfield Prison. He had been convicted in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in March 2004 of dangerous driving causing the death of a 52-year-old married man, Anthony O'Brien, when the BMW he was driving crashed into the wall of a house on South Circular Road on 11 January 2002. James Mulhall, who had fled to England after the crash, began his jail sentence on 12 November 2003.

Also in Wheatfield Prison at that time was James Mulhall's only brother, John (now aged 29), who had been on remand since 4 March 2005 (two weeks before his sisters killed and mutilated Farah Swaleh Noor) on two counts of being a passenger in a stolen car in Cork. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest on 29 November 2004 for breach of his bail conditions and he was arrested on the same day. He was sentenced to eight months' imprisonment on 30 May last year on conviction of the two charges.

The mother of the family, Crumlin-native Kathleen Mulhall (54), who is believed to be in England and who is also expected to be prosecuted in connection with Noor's killing, had lived with her lover in three or four locations in Cork city in 2003 and 2004, having left the family home at Kilcare Gardens in Tallaght after she met the Kenyan man. During that time in Cork, she attended a number of hospitals in the city and was variously treated for fractured ribs, injuries to her hands, bruising and blurred vision. There was testimony at the murder trial that her injuries were consistent with a history of assault. Another pattern that emerged from the medical records was that Kathleen Mulhall frequently told lies about how she had sustained her injuries and failed to attend hospital for follow-up treatment.

During the trial, a former partner of Farah Swaleh Noor testified to his violent nature and claimed that he had repeatedly raped her. The woman said that Kathleen Mulhall had contacted her a number of times to talk about Noor's violence.

Another witness, a young Chinese woman, said she had met Noor while playing pool in Dr Quirkie's amusement arcade on O'Connell Street, Dublin, that he had forced her to have sex with him and that she had consequently given birth to a son.

On 20 March 2005, Linda, 31, and Charlotte, 23, Mulhall met up with their mother and Farah Swaleh Noor in Dublin city centre. They bought vodka and drank it on O'Connell Street before moving onto the Liffey-side boardwalk where the three women took ecstasy tablets. Later, back at the house in Summerhill, Kathleen Mulhall pulverised an ecstasy tablet and surreptitiously put it in Noor's drink. At their trial, the sisters claimed the dead man had made sexual advances on Linda, triggering the events that led to his gruesome death.

The initial story Charlotte told gardaí was that she and Linda had been drinking "all over town" from 10pm until five or six o'clock in the morning and came home to find their mother covered in blood. Charlotte said that, at first, she thought her mother had been assaulted by the deceased but that her mother had said she killed him with a hammer and by cutting his throat before chopping up his body.

On 3 August last year, Kathleen Mulhall and the husband she left for Noor, John Mulhall, were arrested by gardaí in relation to the killing. They were both released without charge. Garda sources confirm that John Mulhall, who worked for a window-glazing company in Dublin, was unlikely to ever face charges. Last December, the father of four, whose grandchildren were living with him in the family home, hanged himself from a tree in the Phoenix Park.

"This was a family poisoned by drugs, drink, violence and the whole shooting gallery," says a criminal-law barrister who followed the trial. "It is a shocking story but what is also shocking is that this kind of lifestyle is relatively common in some parts of Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland. Getting up in the morning and drinking all day, this very hardened life. It's not that unusual.Mulhall sisters

"Teenagers should be monitored. You find that many of them hardly ever go to school. These people come from a lifestyle where school attendance is the bottom of priorities. They're so used to dealing with gardaí they're not frightened of school attendance officers. Very often, there are children who have children. This spiral of destruction should have been detected at some stage by the authorities but because it's everybody's responsibility nobody takes responsibility."

Linda Mulhall's four children are currently in foster care. A child born to Charlotte Mulhall while she was on bail awaiting trial for murder is expected to be allowed live with her mother in the Dochas Centre, the women's prison in Mountjoy, until the child reaches the age of 18 months.

A Garda source says that "things took a turn for the worse" for the family when Kathleen left home. All three Mulhall women – the mother and her two daughters – have worked as prostitutes. A spokeswoman for Ruhama, a support organisation for women in prostitution, says: "In our experience, addiction to drugs and abuse in the home or immediate environment – whether the abuse is physical, sexual or emotional – are contributing factors for women entering prostitution."

Linda and Charlotte Mulhall are due to be sentenced on 4 December for their respective convictions for the manslaughter and the murder of Farah Swaleh Noor but they also have a prior court appointment for a separate and unrelated matter. On 9 November, they are scheduled to face charges of causing criminal damage to a house in Drimnagh on 13 May last. Charlotte Mulhall was previously charged with throwing beer cans at the same house on 27 March 2003 and was given the Probation Act for that on 2 October 2005.

Charlotte Mulhall also has a conviction for being drunk and disorderly. A charge against her of committing assault on Grafton Street last year was struck out.

An observer at the murder trial last month remarks that: "The brothers and sisters seemed to be very close. They were kissing and hugging each other a lot. But they had those blank eyes you see around the courts all the time, especially the brothers."

On 8 November, the day before the sisters' scheduled court appearance on the criminal-damage charges, their brother, James, is due up in the Dublin District Court on a charge of obstructing a garda in Middle Abbey Street in Dublin city centre on 21 October last, the weekend before Linda and Charlotte were found guilty in relation to Farah Swaleh Noor's killing.

There is a bench warrant currently outstanding for the arrest of their other brother, John, since March 10 last. He is accused of threatening and abusive behaviour in Tallaght on 14 January contrary to the Public Order Act.

Kathleen Mulhall never appeared at her daughters' murder trial. She is described as "a very malign influence" on her family.

Meanwhile, far away in Mogadishu, Somalia, another mother welcomed the news of the Mulhall sisters' convictions. Someoa Swaleh Noor, who could not afford to travel to Ireland to hear the details of her 38-year-old son's killing, said that she can finally find some peace.


Irish murders in 2006

7 January: Roburtas Kontautas, 41

Lithuanian man died of head injuries after assault in a house in Johnswood Drive in Co Meath

8 January: Jim Fitzgerald

Seamus Fitzgerald, 19, charged in connection with stabbing of his father in Bailieboro, Co Cavan.

24 January: Rebecca Kinsella, 19

Found dead at her home on 24 January. A 16-year-old boy charged with her murder.

31 January: Siobhan Kearney, 38

Found dead in her home in Goatstown, south Dublin. She was strangled with the flex of a vacuum while her three-year-old son was in the house

11 February: Dara McCormack, 21

Shot in the back as he left his home in Blanchardstown, Dublin, reportedly because he owed a small amount of money to drug dealers

Weekend of 11 February: Mary, 41, Glen, 19, and Andrew Keegan, 6

Mary Keegan stabbed her sons before turning the knife on herself at their home in Firhouse, Dublin

12 February: John Mahon, 60

Former international boxing referee and father of five killed outside sister's house in Fermoy, Cork. John Collins, Francis Street, Fermoy, charged with his murder.

15 February: Romans Panteleimons, 25

Riga-born man stabbed to death in a house in Artane, Dublin.

5 March: Donna Cleary, 22

Mother of one shot dead after a man fired indiscriminately at house where a 40th birthday celebration was taking place. The chief suspect died shortly afterwards in Garda custody.

10 March: Shea Bradley, 27

Derryman found shot dead in laneway off Blackhorse Avenue in north Dublin

2 April: Owen Cahill, 25

Leigh Crowe, 31, from Clonmel, charged with shooting Owen Cahill dead at a house party near Clonmel town

4 April: Denis Donaldson, 56

Former Sinn Féin official and double agent found shot dead in a cottage in remote part of Donegal.

10 April: Gary Wisely, 22

Stabbed after fight broke out at a house on Swiftbrook Avenue in Jobstown, south Dublin. He fled around the corner where he collapsed and died.

20 April: Gerard Goulding, 24

Unemployed father of one shot in the head on wasteland in Donaghmede, north Dublin

21-22 April: Gerard O'Mahony, 22

Keith Nagle, of 15 Churchfield Green, Cork, was charged with stabbing Gerard O'Mahony to death at Parkview, Wellington Road, Cork

21 April: James Purcell, 60

Found dead after being attacked at his home in Henrietta Street in Waterford.

8 May: Lee Kinsella, 30

Shot dead at his home on Ratoath Avenue, Finglas. He was watching television when two men broke the window of the downstairs room and fired shots.

24 May: Keith Ryan, 25

Twenty-five-year-old man from Farrenshone found dead under Shannon Bridge in Limerick with severe head and facial injuries

29 May: Patrick Harte

Forty-two-year-old father of four shot dead in Edenmore on the morning of 29 May after leaving two of his children, aged eight and 10, to school

2 June: Keith Fitzsimons, 23

Shot dead near his Kilbarrack home by a gunman. He was not the intended target of the attack

19 June: James Purdue, 22

Gunned down outside his home in Donaghmede in a well-planned attack

2 June: Emma McLoughlin, 19

Mother of two stabbed to death outside a supermarket in Laytown, Co Meath. Kelly Noble, 20, of Seaview, Laytown charged in connection with her death

12 June: Karen Guinee, 23

Cork woman found strangled at a house on Father Griffin Avenue in Galway City on 12 June. Patrick Hogan, 25, from Father Griffin Avenue, Salthill, was charged in relation to her death.

16 June: Liam Maguire, 43

Died after suffering a number of stab wounds at a house in Dundalk. Gregory Conway, 36, of no fixed abode, was charged with his murder.

17 July: Sheola Keaney, 19

Strangled and partially clothed body found hidden off a laneway in Cobh. Thomas Kennedy, 21, of Russell Heights, Cobh, faces charges for her murder.

1 August: Gary Douche, 21

Kicked and beaten to death in a holding cell in Mountjoy jail by a mentally ill man in the presence of a number of other prisoners

3 August: Peter Lynch, 25

Died after he was stabbed by his brother Patrick following an argument at their parents house in Farranree, north Cork.

14 August: Vincent Plunkett, 83

Found with his throat slashed in sheltered accommodation on Cork Street in south inner city Dublin

14 August: Charlie Wrench, 43

English man who had been living near Kanturk in Cork for almost 20 years shot in his home. His two children were in the house at the time.

15 August: Eddie Joe Clancy, 50

Homeless man found after a vicious assault on a footpath in Tralee Co Kerry and died in hospital from his injuries.

17 August: Gregory Rowan, 44

Ballymun man died following an assault.

19 August: Wayne Zambra, 22

Shot in the head as he sat into his car in Cameron Street, off Cork Street in Dublin. Gardaí said he was a drug dealer.

2 September: Yohan Verhoeven, 31

Badly decomposed body found near Roundwood in Co Wicklow. He had been missing since 12 July.

3 September: Michael 'Christy' Lane, 50

Father of four shot dead in his home in Thurles, Co Tipperary watching All Ireland minor hurling final. His son Paul, 23, charged with murder.

17 September: Frankie Ryan, 21

Shot in the head in the Moyross housing estate in Limerick.

21 September: Alberto Do Prado Olievera, 47

Stabbed to death in an apartment in Charleville in north Cork. Another Brazilian man was arrested in connection with his death.

1 October: Meg Walsh, 35

The body of the mother of one was taken from the river Suir in Waterford on 15 October. She had suffered severe injuries to her upper body.

29 October: Anthony McGrath, 23

Died from a single stab wound to the chest. He was stabbed at his home in Whitestown Walk near Blanchardstown, Dublin.

29 October: Christy Cawley, 33

Married father of six was beaten and stabbed in the complex of flats where he lived in Inchicore, Dublin

Compiled by Neill O'Neill and John Byrne