A woman in Gangland
On January 16, 1983 Dolores Lynch, a former prostitute, her mother and her aunt were burnt to death in a fire at their house. The fire was started by John Cullen, a pimp, who had waited seven years to exact his revenge on Dolores Lynch for going to the police about him. In the garden, while Cullen was setting fire to the house, stood Lyn Madden, Cullen's lover and the woman for whom he pimped. She was also Dolores Lynch's friend.
On November 16 Cullen was conviccted on her evidence.
In this article, based on extensive interviews with Lyn Madden and the evidence in the court, June Levine reconstructs the story of Lyn Madden's life.
LYYN HAD SOAKED IN THE BATH FOR ABOUT an hour when she became aware that he was L moving around the flat. She got into a state of panic. The man rarely moved from his horiizontal position. He must be rooting for something to do a bondage job on her. Rope, scarves, tights, something to use as a whip. Maybe knives. She'd hidden everything. The kitchen knives were in the airing cupboard. That was since the time she woke up to find herself tied to the bed, spread-eagled
Now she dried herself hurriedly, put on her nightdress and went into the bedroom. He was lying on the bed. She gave a quick glance around the room. No signs of any torturing equipment. The videotape was still playing. It was a football match. He'd told her to put on a video and she'd picked football as the safest.
He lay there, a peculiar look on his face. She couldn't pin-point it, but she knew she'd seen it before.
"John love, do you want a cup of tea and a sandwich?"
He stared thoughtfully at her. She got that cramped knot in her stomach, started sweating, the voice in her head said:
"Speak, will you, swine?"
"Yes," said John.
She went into the kitchen and switched the kettle on.
Just what had he up his sleeve for to-night? She buttered bread, spread ham. She brought him the food. He didn't look at her, but said: "OK Lyn." Lyn sat down and picked up a book to read, but could not concentrate. Her mind insisted on debating what weirdo scene he was cooking up.
The names of some of the people in this article have been changed
"Lyn, get dressed, we're going on a message." It was 3.30am. Jesus Christ, she thought. "Where to John?"
Just do as you're told and get dressed."
As they drove down Dorset Street, she asked: "John, where are we going?"
"Mind your own business," he replied matter of factly. She knew then that they were not going to the twentyyfour hour shop. Tommy Carlysle's house? With 17 days to the court case she should have guessed why he was so quiet all evening. He was planning to give it to Tommy. How? She got even more scared. In a man to man fight Tommy Carlysle would tear John to pieces, so John must be plannning something to catch Tommy unawares. Tommy would be within his rights if he beat the hell out of her for going to his house with John. "I can't win no matter what I do," she thought.
They were driving up Clanbrassil Street. Dolores! He turned left, then right, then drove slowly up a street lined with neat, semi-detached houses, counting out the number of each house as they passed on the right hand side. Lyn's heartbeat slowed, she felt herself breathe normally. What had made her think of Dolores? Just because they turned down Clanbrassil Street? John had told her that Dolores lived in a terraced house like the ones in Coronation Street. This wasn't like Coronation Street. She couldn't figure what the hell he was doing. Perhaps he'd found another imaginary enemy. It had to be related to the trial. Now she realised it had been brewing for days.
John parked the car on a hill, took a pair of gloves off the dashboard and said: "Get out." Lyn followed him round to the boot of the car from which he was taking a large blue hold all bag. He was wearing the gloves.
As they got near Lyn's flat in Ballymun, John suddenly laughed out loud. He was ecstatic. As soon as he got inside the flat he told Lyn to bring newspapers and spread them on the floor. He placed the holdall on the paper and stripped off every stitch of clothes onto the paper. He told her to take off her shoes and put them with the rest.
John was singing softly to himself. He stopped suddenly and asked: "What are you lookin' at me like fuckin' that for? Do something. Make a cup of tea. Run the bath. Look out the window and see is the coast clear." She did it all. As she was waiting for the kettle to boil, she heard the front door open and shut and heard the rubbish chute being slammed. He came back in and got into the bath, humming. "I hope I got the right house," he said and then carried on humming.
He lay on the bed and she handed him a cup of tea. She was afraid to look at him for fear he thought she was lookking the wrong way. Lyn hadn't spoken a word since they had come back to the flat. She dared not speak for fear of setting him off. He pretended not to notice her silence. He told her to wash everything from the newspaper, put them into a plastic bag to be disposed of the next day. He stood by her at the kitchen sink as she washed the evidence. He got dressed, smiled and said: "Have to go now, Lyn." He said he'd be back around four the next afternoon. He was gone.
Lyn locked and bolted the door, took a few Valium and lay down on the bed.
SHE DIDN'T GET BETWEEN THE SHEETS. She knew she wouldn't be sleeping. She squeezed her eyes against the screams in her head. It was 6am, only two and a half hours since he had told her: "Get dressed." .
She lay there, her mind racing. Even if she'd got out of the garden without the butcher's knife in her back, where would she run to? Even if she'd got away, he would have had to silence her. He had keys to her flat. Maybe he wouldn't get her right away, but one day she would walk into her flat and there he'd be, lying on her bed. Waiting.
John had always said that if he ever got locked up again he would kill Lyn before he went in. He had surely killed ner tonight.
Full of Valium, Lyn. debated the possibilities. She argued with herself until S.5 Spm the next day, Sunday. She avoided the radio all day. The police hadn't kicked in her door. She'd convinced herself whoever was in the house had escaped to safety. Cullen hadn't come back yet.
A good sign? John wasn't going to show up. Typical.
She switched on the television. Charles Mitchel's face flashed on the screen. A judge was shot in Belfast, blah, olah, blah. She let her breath out slowly. Charles Mitchel continued: "Two women died in a fire in a house in Hammmond Street early this morning and the daughter of one of
them, Miss Dolores Lynch aged 34, died later in hospital." A picture of the burned out house flashed onto the screen. Lyn jumped up and switched off the set. Another fistful of Valium. It was hard to get the pills down because her hand shook so much that the water slopped out of the cup as she tried to hold it to her lips.
Then Lyn did something she had never done in her life.
She stood in the middle of the kitchen floor and screamed at the top of her voice. She didn't cry. She couldn't. She stood there and screamed and screamed. She screamed:
"You bastard John. You bastard. Bastard, bastard," over and over. Then she lay down on the bed, closed her eyes and crossed her hands over her breast. Her heart beat so fast that she could feel her hands being lifted by the force. She lay there for two and a half hours, awake.
At 8.30pm she opened the door to him. He walked past her, lay down on the bed, folded his hands under his head and said: ''Why haven't you got the telly on?"
"I had it on, did you hear the news?" she said. She didn't look at him. She knew if he saw the way she felt about him he would have to kill her. "Yes", he replied, "I'm glad she's dead." He didn't look at her as he said that, She went into the bathroom, locked the door and sat on the floor with her back to it. So he had watched the news. He'd heard about the Lynchs. Had he spent the day as a normal family man with his wife and kids?
She splashed cold water on her own face and went back into the room. "What are you ~anding there for", he asked, "come and lie down beside me." She lay on the very edge of the bed. He leaned across and pulled her towards him. ¨He was about to kiss her when she turned her head away from him: "John, I can't, please don't kiss me." "Right", he said, "get all the gear together and we'll get rid of it."
Sometimes when Lyn wakes out of a nightmare in her flat she goes and stands on her balcony. She looks around the flats in Ballymun. "Did you know", she asked me, "that at night Ballymun looks like Manhattan? It's beautiiful around 3am in the morning." She stands there and thinks of all those people asleep in their beds, good people, bad people, working people, parasites. She thinks of the women, women struggling to make ends meet, a few prosstitutes, shop-lifters, drug-pushers, cheque bouncers but "I know I am the only woman out there who has the guilt I have to live with."
When they got rid of the gear they went back to the flat and he switched on the television and stretched out on the bed. He told her to make tea and sandwiches. He didn't speak until the television finished. Then he leaned over her, put his leg over her stomach and kissed her. "John, I'm not looking for trouble, but please don't. I'm upset. It was bad enough last night but when I heard the 6 o'clock news I was shattered. I still am. I can't make love, I just can't." She talked on, trying to placate him ... ''I'll get over it in time but right now I just could not stand for you to make love to me."
He studied her intently. She controlled the muscles in her face. She'd hoped she'd given the impression of love for him, but at the same time a stupid female revulsion of being tainted with death. At long last he spoke: "Alright love. I understand." He kissed her very gently, then lay back on his own pillow: "I suppose it's only natural you would feel upset. I suppose I should not have taken you with me but it's too late now. I won't try to make love to you until you feel ready. See Lyn, I can't think like you. I forget that something !ike that would probably hit you pretty hard. Lyn, I love you very much you know. If I didn't I wouldn't have taken yOU with me."
"He took me with him -because he loved me?" Lyn asked herself.
She dared ask him. In a whisper: "John, how do you feel now?"
"I'm just glad she's dead," he replied. "John?"
"What about her mother and her aunt?" He jumped off the bed: "The fuckin' rat shouldn't have a mother and an aunt. I'm going horne now, Lyn." He left.
The next day was Monday and they bought all the newspapers to read about the fire. John was thrilled it had made the front page. It was also rent day and each week, after they'd paid it, they visited Lyrn's friend, Grace Trimble. Grace was talking when she suddenly paused and said excited]y: "Lyn, Dolores Lynch is dead. A taxi-driver told me last night."
Lyn couldn't speak. She turned from the window towards Grace. Grace looked at Lyn, putting her cup back .own on the table. She knew. She mimed the words: "Was, John?" Lyn nodded. Grace mimed again: "Were you with him?" Lyn nodded again. Grace and Lyn were so close they didn't need words. Grace put her hand over Lyn's, squeezed, and pointed to the door and they both walked into the living room. "John", Lyn said, "did you hear Dolores is dead?"
"I'm fuckin' delighted," he said, not moving his eyes from the television screen. The women exchanged some eye talk. They went back into the bedroom. Lyn told her everything, She had to. She couldn't carry it alone.
John dropped Lyn back at her flat, saying he was going to see one of-his prostitutes to collect his takings from her and he would be back later. Lyn felt the better for telling Grace. She knew Grace would not repeat it because she was absolutely terrified of John.
A couple of nights later, Lyn was stroking his feet the way he liked after his bath, when he said: "Did I tell you Lyn that the women on the canal are making a collection for Dolores?" It was usual if one of the women was sick or a relative died or something, to make a collection.
"No, you didn't, how do you know?"
"Claire said it when I went up this morning. She said Betty was asking all the women for a fiver for Dolores's family. I told Claire that if I found out that he had given a penny to it I would break her neck. By the way Lyn, Tommy has to be got rid of this week-end. I think 1 will burn his house."
The holocaust, Lyn thought. She panicked: "I know Tommy, his wife, his children. John you will have to kill me. 1 will not stand again. I will not hear any more screams," she told him. Tenderly, he replied that he'd do it alone this time. He didn't know why he'd taken her to the Lynch house: "I had a feeling you were getting tired of me and wanted out, at least now I know you can't grass on me. You'd only be setting yourself up." He went home then.
Even before the Lynch fire, there were several terrified families in Dublin. A member of each one of them had somehow crossed John Cullen. He had made a previous attempt to set fire to Dolores's house by putting fire-lighters through the letter-box. He'd burned a taxi because he'd found the young driver in bed with one of 'his' women ˆobviously not a paying customer. When it became obvious that the pair were in love with thoughts of pennanency, John tried to burn down the man's father's house. They were respectable people and when the fire failed, they paid other penances at John Cullen's hands. John offered
to sell the woman for £5,000 to the taxi-driver. The man said he didn't have that much money. John offered him a hire purchase deal on the young woman.
After the fire, John went on a rampage on the canal.
He raped several of the women, kidnapping them in his car. Women on the game for years were shocked and sickkened by his sexual deviations. The degradation to which he submitted them went from horrific to impossible to describe.
John came to Lyn's flat on the day of Dolores's funeral.
She was numb but alerted by his edginess. She managed to cook him dinner and was amazed that he ate it. He had a bath. It was a habit of Lyn's to sit on the toilet seat and talk to him in his bath. She called it her "office" because in this situation she could always get him to talk.
"John what's wrong?" she asked. '"
He did not answer for a long while. He always soaped and soaped his legs in slow firm movements. Rinsed and soaped and rinsed, over and over again. It was an obsesssional ritual Lyn often wondered about. He kept soaping his body: "Dolores," he finally said, then fell silent again. Lyn thought the enormity of it all had finally hit him. She prompted: "What about her?"
"I was down the canal last night. They are still colleccting for her. I will kill every whore down there. I fuckin' hate prostitutes. They know she is my enemy, they know she grassed on me, they know she's a rat," he said, his face white with temper.
"John, for Christ's sake, the woman is dead. She was lowered into the ground today. Her mother and aunt were buried alongside her. The funeral was today. Can you not let her rest?"
John looked at her now with a sly crazy leer. "Yes, I forgot, I hope the maggots are eating her ," he said. It hit Lyn that he was crazy. She'd always known he had psychoopathic tendencies, but now he had flown over. Flipped. He was talking about Dolores as if she was still alive.
He kept on about Dolores, saying he'd kill every prostiitute on the canal for sympathising with the family. He assured Lyn he wouldn't include her.
She said to him: "I'm not talking about you killing the women. I'm talking about your obsession with Dolores." He looked at the ceiling and then in the manner of an innuisitive child, asked: "Do you reckon the maggots are eating her yet? She's been down there a day now."
She was terrified. She tried to humour him: "John baby, I don't know, I don't know how long it takes for maggots to eat through a coffin. You look so tense. Why don't you give your head a break and go up to Patsy and go for a drink?" The way he was looking at her was like a little :hild, you know, Mammy why did God make the dark?
She'd never seen it before. Eventually, he went, looking like a guilty boy for leaving Mammy on her own.
She bolted the door after him. She wouldn't let him in if he came back after the pub. She couldn't. She just could not stand to see John the boy, child, man, killer, headcase, that night.
At 10am the next morning there was a banging on her door. It was Anna's pimp: "Is John here?"
"No," said Lyn.
"Then can I bring Davy up?" She nodded and went to make coffee. The two pimps told her John Cullen had kid· napped her friend Grace off the canal the night before and she hadn't been seen since. Lyn sat down. John must have twigged she'd told Grace about the fire. Grace could be dead. Lyn asked Grace's pimp: "Is she not in the flat?" He replied: "Do you think I would walk into the flat and John Cullen be waiting for me with a knife. I came here to see if you knew anything. How will I find out if she's there?"
Lyn despised him at that moment. He had always been a "gutless wonder" but now "his own woman" could be lying dying and he was too scared to go into the flat. Lyn suggested they get Bella to go in and find out the score. "He won't touch her. He knows she'll get him nicked." Besides, Bella, a respectable neighbour, wasn't terrorised by anyone. She's a tiny woman with a ferocious temper who would confront anyone. They found Grace in the flat.
Bella and Lyn sat on Grace's bed in her flat until Grace pcured out her nightmare during six hours with John Cullen. And he'd promised to return three nights a week to ceep her company.
He said her pimp neglected her too much.
More women came to see Grace. Two of them had called to Grace's flat the night before in a taxi and honked rhe horn. They saw John looking out the window. He was naked. The next day another woman came forward to desscribe her ordeal with John Cullen, and then another and another. Mary, an unusually strong woman had fought like a demon. She couldn't get John's car door open from the inside but she got the window open and made her getaway through it in spite of him trying to pull her back by the legs. She got free at lrishtown, flagged a taxi. John gave chase, driving up on the pavement, through red lights, but the taxi driver managed to lose him. It was then John grabbed Grace, known to be the softest of the women, least able to defend herself.
Lyn attacked John about the rapes. He denied it. She described some of the details: "Ring any bells John? You tried to do the same to me. You asked me more than once to let you."
There was a raging row. He said he was sick of brassers.
He was going to exterminate every last one of the women on the canal. Lyn stood with her hands on her hips: "You are sick of brassers? You've caused a reign of terror down there. Every woman down that canal hates your guts, it was a sorry day for Dublin prostitutes the day you went into the pimping game. You won't find an Irish girl on the canal tonight. The word is out, they are scared out of their wits. None of those girls did you any harm and you have made a bloody good living from the canal. Supported your wife and three kids. Stay away from them. If you walk out of here now, I swear I'll be gone when you come back. I have to work alongside these women. I will not stand by and let you destroy them."
He grabbed her by the hair: "Lyn baby, you're in no position to make threats. You are only reminding me that you are a danger to me over Dolores. You would want to be careful what you say to me."
Lyn kept silent for some time. Then he said it was her fault if he screwed other women: "If you let me make love to you I wouldn't have to go down the canallookin' for it." It was only a week since the fire, John was a married man and had never had a very high sex drive. He left early that night.
January 23 was Lyn's birthday, 39 years. Last year her birthday had come three weeks after the stabbing of Tommy Carlysle and she'd wondered would she reach HUrtyynine. Seven days since the fire. Murder, rape, violence and horrendous rows with John since January 16. John came and insisted he take her for a birthday drink at the Swiss Cottage. She'd given up drink since the night of the first bondage session with him and she feared John on drink. He sat close and held her hand in the pub.
It left Lyn cold. He made her tell him she loved him.
He kissed her. She had long since wearied of having to prove she loved him.
For almost a year, he demanded proof: "If you loved me you'd have my baby, but you can't because you insist on wearing that damn thing." She'd fended it off as best she could. She didn't want to be pregnant. She'd three children and she felt she hadn't been able to do well by any of them. Besides, approaching forty, she didn't want to face all that again.
But John kept up the pressure. Every night. "If you loved me.." " or "what's the use if we don't have a child of our own, it proves you're not going to stay." Or the worst: "Please, Lyn? Please?" That went on Tor the best part of a year. One night she agreed, when John was being especially loving, that yes, she would have a baby. He waited outside the clinic while she had her IUD removed.
She came out of the clinic in bits. She felt helpless, utterly vulnerable. All the way home in the car, tears stung her eyes and her hands shook when she tried to light a cigarette. It was as if she were watching some other woman do something crazy.
Within two months Lyn was pregnant. When she told John, he disappeared. Didn't turn up for weeks. Then he told her he'd decided, after all, that he would stay with her until she had the baby. A few more days: "Lyn, it's a mistake, you'll have to have an abortion." He kept on about the abortion and Lyn arranged to go to England with Grace to have an abortion. She didn't tell John. She knew now, that "she was going to do exactly as she wished, but she'd play him like a fish, let him think he ruled the roost. He changed his mind again. They would have the baby. Then, no it was out of the question. Then: "Lyn you have to make arrangements." "OK John," Lyn said wearily and kepther date in England. She was very ill after the abortion.
Tonight, a year later, he said: "I think I know what the trouble is. I should never have made you get that abortion. We will have a baby. You can work for another two years, then pack it in and we'll have a baby.
She told him, gently, that all that was over now. There was no future for .them. But he argued with her. He guarannteed her that in ten years time they would have it made, have two houses set in flats, use the money from the rents to open a book-shop for Lyn. "Our child would be about seven years old then. My own kids would be grown up and all this will be a bad dream." He meant and believed every word.
"John, I don't know how you can talk about ten years from now. You are in cuckooland. You know we won't last ten years."
He kissed her: "Lyn love, if I didn't believe in an after life I would leave my wife tomorrow and move in with you. I would divorce Judy and marry you."
She asked him what an after life had to do with it
He told her that he was scared that if he left his wife and God was waiting at the gates of heaven when he died he would never forgive him for leaving his wife. If he could know for sure that there was no after life, no heaven, he would move in with her and be happy. "I wouldn't feel TLty about it."
"John", she said, "you have burnt three women to death. What the hell do you think your God thinks about that? If you leave your wife he won't forgive you? What about Dolores and her family? Do you think he will open the pearly gates for you after that?"
He withdrew his hand: "We're back to that again. Look, God knows I'm in the right. He knows Dolores got me nicked. He understands."
The evening went from bad to worse until Lyn blurted: "I don't even think I love you anymore." Now, she was skating on thin ice.
She began thinking of mad dogs. A dog you loved could savage a child. You'd love and miss the dog, she reasoned, but it had to be Stopped. John had become worse than a mad dog. He had lost the power of reason and he had human intelligence.
One of the pimps tried to shoot John Cullen and failed.
After this and the rapes, several people abandoned their flats and were hiding out. Grace and Davy were sleeping on a mattress in someone else's flat with a Colt .45 beside them. People were cracking. John Cullen's tentacles had spread wide. One man suggested going to the police about him. Lyn was terrified. If she grassed him up, he would replace Dolores with her as the object of his hate. He'd arrange a little hit and run accident after he tortured her. As she walked back from Grace's that day she had a feeling it was only a matter of time before the police came pounnding at the door. She thought of killing him. How? With a silver bullet or a stake through the heart?
Eventually, rejected by Lyn, John said: "I'm leaving " now Lyn. I will not be coming back. It's over. I have to get out now before I do something you and I will be sorry for." After he'd gone, she bolted the door.
She hadn't played her cards right. Now; she heard the screech of his brakes, as he took off in a rage. She'd gone too far. She should have grovelled more. He would come back. She was for it, this time.
More Valium. She dreamed of him standing over her as she lay, knife glinting, smiling.
It was 7am. He was back. Why hadn't she run last night?
Christ he'd knock the door off its hinges. But it wasn't him, she found, when she went to look. It was the police. About five of them: "Who's in the flat with you?"
"Just my son," she answered. The same guard said to her: "Get dressed, I am arresting you under Section 30." "Make your mother a cup of tea," he said to the boy. As she was drinking the coffee (she doesn't like tea) the guard asked: "You know what it's about, don't you?" She noddded.
When they were driving along, Lyn said: "Have you got John?"
"Yes, you can relax, we have him." She exhaled. "What took you so long?" she asked.
LYN WAS BORN IN CORK. HER FIRST memory is of being in an English convent in a large room with her mother and a nun. Her mother left with the nun, saying: "See you later." The nun came back into the room, alone. She slapped her hands together and said: "Come on, Elizabeth. Take your coat off." The child resisted, stood against the wall, trying to press her body into the woodwork to escape. They struggled with Lyn's coat. She started to cry.
"No," Lyn said, ''I'm waiting for my mummy." The nun lost her temper, slapped her on the face and said: "Stop that at once. You are staying here. Your mother is not coming back. She doesn't want you." The nun took her coat from her and put it on a chair. Before they left the room, Lyn attempted to take her Elizabeth brooch off her coat. The nun wouldn't let her. Lyn had been so proud of that brooch.
Lyn cried when the lights went out that night. She never again cried when she was sent through different institutions. She wouldn't let "them" see they'd got to her.
The convent was Nazareth House on Hammersmith Bridge. Sisters of Charity. Charity? She never saw any in all the four years she was there.
Her mother came to see her once in the four years, the day she made her First Holy Communion. She brought her a silver cross and chain. She had it around her neck for a week. Then, the head girl on her table pulled her hair and punched her until she gave her the cross and chain. She was warned not to tell the nuns. She never did: "I was not a grass."
The nuns were always beating them. Every morning the bed-wetters lined up to be caned. One day Lyn and her friend Maureen were sitting in the garden singing Alma Cogan's song: "Give me five minutes more, only five minutes more in your arms ... " A nun swooped, called them "common sluts" and Mother Superior pulled their knickers down and thrashed them for singing "obscene songs".
When Lyn was eleven-years-old, her mother appeared and took her home. Home was one room in Sumatra Road,
West Hamstead. A blanket hung as a divider from a string across the ceiling. George also came with the room. Lyn was to call him Dad. He slept with her mother. George was kind to her, but one night she looked in at her mother's bed and caught them at it. She hated George for what he was doing to "my lovely mother".
A few weeks later, George was gone and mother and daughter went to live with Aunt Kitty in Leicester. Six months later George came back. Also, a girl named June appeared on the scene. She was Lyn's sister. She had a brother Donny who died in Ireland. She'd adored him. He died with a bit of Easter egg in his hand, keeping it for Lyn.
June had spent years in different children's homes.
Then, eventually when Lyn's mother kicked George out, she took the girls to a hostel for the homeless. Mother stayed with them that night. The next day the children were sent to separate children's homes. Lyn's mother came to see her one day. She looked beautiful. Lyn watched her leaving from the window. Inside her head she begged her to take her with her. She never looked back.
Then one day, Lyn was told her father had come for her. She thought it was George, but it was her father, Dennis Madden, whom she couldn't remember. He said he'd come and take her home to his new family next day. She didn't like the look of him. She ran away that night. The police picked her up at daybreak and took her back to the home.
Her mother came for her: "He's not getting his hands on you!"
"My new house was a real house. It had an upstairs and a downstairs and a bathroom. It was owned by Lawwrence, my new father. I couldn't call him Dad. George was my Dad. Lol was a lovely man. He was a widower with a grown-up daughter living in France. He gave me all her books when he saw how much I liked reading. She had been to university so they were books I'd never have got otherwise."
Lyn had been told by her mother not to mention June, who was still in a children's home. Then Lol and Lyn's mother got married. When they came back from the cereemony, Lol told Lyn they'd got married. June was taken home. Lyn remembers Lol said: "You're very welcome June," and then turned to her mother and said: "Look Freda, if there are any more I'm entitled to know ... "
She left school at fifteen and had nineteen jobs that year. She lost the one she liked, in a book-shop, because she dyed her hair and her hands were stained black so she couldn't go to work. Her mother went out to work. Lyn's nose was always buried in a book so that she let the fire go out or the potatoes burn. One day her mother threw her out. When Lyn got lifted for stealing a cigarette lighter from a shop, her mother refused to go bail for her, told the court she was a problem. Lyn was sent to the Good Sheppherd nuns in Manchester for 12 months. "Those nuns were the opposite of the charity ones. They were good to us."
A year later, Lyn was back fighting with her mother.
Back with her shop-lifting friends. At the same time she met Johnny Gray. He was nineteen-years-old, terribly dashing and good-looking. She dropped him because he was too serious about her. Johnny Gray would come back into her life. Arrested for shop-lifting again, Lyn landed in Strangeways Prison in Manchester, awaiting a psychiatric report.
"I saw one shrink for five minutes. His main interest was the extent of my sexual experience. And believe me, now I know he was not searching for any Freudian links. He was pure bloody kinky."
The woman in the next bed to Lyn was convicted of murdering her husband; she caved his skull in with a hattchet. The woman on the other side of her had drowned her baby in a rain barrel. Lyn was the youngest of them all. Three of them pushed prams around the exercise yard. In England mothers in prison can keep babies until they are twoold.
MOST OF THE WOMEN were prostitutes. They told Lyn that with her looks she was stupid to shopplift. She could get two years. For a new skirt or something? She would get three months max on 'the game'. She would make £30 a night, easy. She asked how they could put up with dirty old men? The very pretty one told her: "Listen kid, when you start having sex you'll find out ... After a while you won't even know you're doing it." She couldn't beelieve that then.
One morning they were ordered to dress quickly and put in separate cells. At. 7.55am she learned why. A man was to be hanged.
"I heard a train rumbling in the distance. The noise grew louder. Nearer. Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang. Christ, we were at war. Manchester was being bombed. The banging was swelling from the guts of the prison, it was getting nearer, nearer. It was next door, in the next cell .. It passed to the cell on my right and continued on. Tears sprang to my eyes, I brushed them away. I knew what it was. The prisoners were banging their tin mugs on the cell doors. It had started on the men's side and was picked up by the women. I heard bells tolling. It was 8am. The banging stopped. Jusstice was seen to be done. A young man was murdered in cold blood for reevenge. The prison was silent the rest of the day."
The hanging had a deep effect on Lyn. She talks graphically of it still. It epitomised a "justice" she could not respect and made the society which condoned it an alien place. She formed a code of her own. "I didn't know what I would do on my release. I did know that I would never work at a 'normal' job."
The 'shrink' had found that Lyn was "intelligent" and "introspective" but was 'normal' in spite of showing a decisive disrespect for authority. She lacked concentration. This made Lyn worthy of six months detention in an
experimental centre. It was such a new place, she was Number 5. It was supposed to impose "a short, sharp lessson". She learned plenty, including: always use a contracepptive, get the money first, how to defraud post offices, bounce cheques, smash a human skull with a bottle, how to fence stolen goods.
Lyn met Johnny Gray again when she was released, and her old friend Sandra. She lived with Sandra, once a shopplifter turned prostitute. Social security gave her £3 a week. Sandra bought her everything else. Lyn's independent streak was developing. Why should Sandra work to support her? A prostitute was one thing, a parasite quite another.
They went down to work together. A car stopped, the driver said he wanted Lyn. Sandra said Lyn was new and couldn't go on her own. He agreed to have Sandra in the car. with them. He handed over £2. Money in those days. Sandra pinched her shoulder and hissed: "Don't just bloody sit there! Get him undone."
She did that and. then turned to Sandra. "Oh, for Christ's sake, I'll do it," Sandra said. She leaned over between the two seats and massaged his penis. When he got an erection she passed Lyn a contraceptive.
"I ripped the tin foil from it," says Lyn, "but it was so tiny. How the hell would it stay on. Again Sandra came to the rescue: 'You bloody fool. It unrolls, look, you roll it down over his thing, you hold the teat between your finngers like this, that way you won't get any air in it and it won't burst. Right. Get on with it'." Lyn leaned back, guiding him. Then she saw his face for the first time. It was over. "I got sick all over the car. He yelled at us to get out. I thought I'd never do it again but the next day the money was spent and I went back down to work."
Lyn got nicked three times in the next year for soliiciting. She had been living with Johnny Gray for a while before he discovered she was on the game. She told him her mother gave her cash sometimes. They slept together for weeks "before I let him have a bit", recalls Lyn. "We just stayed in bed most of the time cuddling and reading, talkking. There was another couple in the room with us at night and we could hear them, but Johnny thought I was too good for that kind of thing. I remember it was his birthday and I told him that morning: "You can have sex today if you like."
"Big deal," Johnny replied.
They broke open the gas meter, bought a bottle of wine and went to bed to celebrate Johnny's birthday. It was no big deal. "Johnny kind of liked the idea I was cold. It set me on a pedestal. Sometimes I would feel turnned on, but I daren't show it. His mother and father were hard-working people. His Dad a civil servant.
"I was fed up being broke. Johnny was violent and had no bottle for robbing, so that's how I went with Sandra. There was war when he found out. He beat me black and blue. He left me lying on the floor and spat on me. There were tufts of my hair over my sweater. He said I'd broken his heart. He kept making me say I was sorry. I said it beecause he was hitting me, but I couldn't see what the fuss was about. Then he cooled down after a week or so and said: 'OK, if you are going on the game you are going to do it properly'."
They got a flat. He helped her buy tartier clothes. He walked behind her, carrying her coat and umbrella in case it got cold. She was always freezing. When she got kidney trouble he rubbed her with wintergreen and fetched and carried. Then he got onto a thing about her being infertile. She never wanted to have children, but she got pregnant for Johnny. She did three months while she was pregnant. Each of her three children, two boys and a girl, have been in prison before they were born.
Sometimes she gets that look on her face. She's thinkking about her kids. One is in prison for doing grevious bodily harm, the other is living with people in England. He's a football fan. She sends him the odd few quid to go to matches. Not a football hooligan. A fan. She talks about the boys, but can't bear to talk about her daughter. The little girl was taken into care at age seven, two years ago.
While Lyn was pregnant that first time, Johnny worked on a building site as a nobber. Nobbers carry bricks' on their heads the way Asian women carry water, she explainned to me. Her eyes shone when she recalled: "Johnny could carry sixteen bricks!"
Winter came and Johnny was redundant. His car needed taxing so he took someone else's disc and changed the number. He got six months. Social security only gave Lyn £1 and she happened not to be talking to her mother and had no friends with money.
Johnny did three weeks and appealed and came out to find Lyn back on the game. She was determined to earn her own money. He would have to go to prison if he stayed in Leicester so they moved to Birmingham. There she became pregnant with her next son. The pill had not yet arrived on the scene. Johnny would not use condoms. Pimps never do. It makes them feel like clients.
Lyn never wanted to marry, but anyway Johnny had been married at seventeen, had two daughters and was not divorced. "I always thought marriage was prostitution", says Lyn, "just another form. My mother was always marrying and advised it was better to be an old man's darling than a young man's slave."
"I'm glad I didn't marry. I shouldn't have had kids either. I wasn't maternal. Johnny talked me into children. I wish I had a home for them now. We never lived in any place longer than months."
They spent two years in Birmingham. Lyn made a good living, got three months. Then Johnny was charged with causing an affray, in danger of getting up to fourteen years. "Johnny can't do time. That's why he never robbed. He was quick tempered and violent, but he hadn't a criminal mind. He'd done Borstal and it nearly killed him. So we had to let it somewhere."
Their Irish baby-sitter, Michael, told them Dublin was a great place for prostitution. The year was 1966. He minded the children while the pair came to Dublin for a week to find out the score. Michael had told them Percy Place was the area, but Lyn hadn't written it down. When she asked a Dubliner to name a street beginning with 'purse', she was told Pearse Street. It sounded right. Six nights on Pearse Street, there was no business. The night before they were due to go back, they happened to walk down towards Westland Row. Johnny was a few yards behind her. ''Turn right," he hissed. A car stopped: "Are you doin'business luv?"
She asked the man for three quid, a pound more than Birmingham (because she was a new face). The man took her to his flat in Leeson Park and as she left he said: "By the way, it's a fiver here in Dublin." The land of milk and honey. They fetched their children the next day. Lyn was twenty-one years old. She loved Dublin. Liked working here. In England, prostitutes avoided doing business with Irishmen. On the boat over Lyn said: "Jesus Christ Johnny, it's just dawned on me it will be all Paddies I'll be doing business with." In England Irishmen were too often violent and dirty. Johnny said: "There must be some middle-class Irish."
This was Lyn's hey day. She supported a middle-class life style, sent her children to private schools. Johnny was I driving a BMW, wearing mohair suits and had wealthy respectable drinking friends.
The children were getting older and Johnny wanted her to stop work before they started asking questions. They planned a post-office fraud scheme. It would have brought them enough money to go back to England and open a book shop for Lyn. It came unstuck. They got caught. They skipped the country for a year. Lyn worked in Lewis's department store in Birmingham. She found it more demanding than standing on the canal. "Yes madam", or "certainly sir", for £18 a week.
Lyn got pregnant with her daughter. They had an evicction order, and what Lyn was earning Johnny was drinking. He always "thanked" Dublin for turning him into an alcooholic. Lyn borrowed money to go back to work in Dublin. Back three weeks, she got six months for the fraud. Johnny was extradited from England and got six months. The Church of Ireland Social Services brought the children over from England and put them in Glen Silver Children's Home in Monkstown.
On her release from prison, Lyn was sent by a welfare officer to live with a family in Dalkey. She looked after their children while they were both at work, but she had no cash, not even for a pair of tights. Once or twice a week she sent down to work on the canal. She told them she was visiting a friend.
It was hard to make money, being so obviously pregnant.
She went into labour after work one night and had her daughter. The children's home rang to tell her that her son was ill. A psychiatrist had seen the boy and diagnosed that he was pining for his mother. He wouldn't eat or speak. So, three days after she'd given birth, Lyn went back to work. This time to get money to get her kids together.
Most of the clients were "nice" to her. "I told them to take it easy, I'd just had a baby, but that seemed to turn one guy on. He just rammed it into me. No, I didn't pass out. Within a week I had enough to pay two months rent on a house in Tallaght, bought a cot, got the boys out and brought the baby from the hospital."
In the year that Lyn was in England, Jamaican pimps had put a crowd of English girls on Fitzwilliam Square.
She, Dolores Lynch and two other girls had moved to the square. The English girls told them to clear off. The Irish women declared war on them. Lyn (With her English accent) would speak to one of the women to find out if she was from England and if she was the other girls would at her up. This continued for a few weeks. The women called their pimps in England to tell them the natives were revolting. One night, Lyn was approached by a car load of Jamaicans who came over from England: "Who yo' workin' fo' woman?"
Lyn answered: "I'se a workin' fa' the white man,honey."
She added-a bit more and got a punch in the face. She went home and told Johnny.
JOHNNY WENT NUTS. HE'S RACIST. HE doesn't like blacks and thinks all Jewish mothers are perfect. He went round to a friend, the husband of another prostitute.
They went down to the square and told all the English women to get out of the country. "I know he didn't hit them," Lyn assures me, "he kept the battering in the family."
After the women went home, Johnny was driving Lyn to work and they bought the Sunday World. As he drove, Johnny said: "Anything in the papers?"
Lyn read the headlines: FIND THIS EVIL MAN. She read on: "A vicious baron is lying low today. His name is Johnny Gray. And he is a menace to society." "Johnny, it's you," she said. Johnny screeched to a halt and grabbed the paper from her. The story said the Grays lived in a southside suburb. "He is the sports-car-driving, champagneedrinking Johnny Gray. He drives a yellow BMW, reg nummber CUDS04." There they were sitting in the self same car as Dubliners passed them by reading their Sunday World.
They drove down the canal for Dolores. She would know what to do. "Dolores was already armed with a copy of the newspaper, waiting for us. 'I thought you'd never come', she said. We went home. We were in the process of moving so we hastened it. We took out an injunction against the Sunday World. Reporters flew over to Derby, interviewed pimps and prostitutes and came back to Dublin, went into court armed with sworn affidavits. The injuncction was overruled and the Sunday World continued with its so-called expose. I doubt if the reporters suspected that the pimps had beaten up their own prostitutes when the women arrived back from Dublin saying we had run them home."
Now, Johnny Gray got death threats to get out of Ireeland. He left. Dolores moved in with Lyn. Dolores was allways a good friend to anyone in trouble and she baby-sat with Lyn's children. Lyn paid money into Johnny's bank account every week. Johnny came to visit his family. The night he came back, two men came round to give Lyn a beating because one of their names had been mentioned in the Sunday World article.
The Grays were in bed and heard noise outside. Johnny looked out the window. Lyn had a pitch-fork in the beddroom because she'd got a threatening call the week before.
The men outside had guns. Lyn phoned the police, taking some time to convince them it wasn't just a hussband trying to break into his own house.
Johnny ran out of the bedroom with the pitch-fork.
There was a terrible commotion. He stuck the pitch-fork in one man's neck and had to lever it out to get the other man in the back of the neck. When the lights were switched on he was covered with blood and said: "I think I've killed one of them." The men left a trail of blood down the street after them. They were located in hospital later, one nearly died and the other had 56 stitches. Certain Dublin gangsters went round singing "I've got a garden pitch-fork" to the tune of "I've got a combine harvester".
Dolores got to the house before the police. She'd heard the call from a vice-squad radio down at work. She got in a taxi and went to aid the Grays.
Two weeks later Johnny came back to Dublin because their son was ill. That night, coming home from work, Lyn saw what she thought were two black-haired men trying to break into the house via the baby's bedroom window.
"Hey, what are you doing?" she yelled. They turned.
The "black hair" was a balaclava mask.
One man had a sawn off shotgun and one a .45. The one with the sawn off said: "Make a move and I'll blow your fuckin' head off." Lyn moved, screaming down the street.
He caught her, held her On the ground with the butt of a gun in her neck.
Johnny had been taking a bath, heard the screams, dragged Lyn's dressing gown on and ran out and hit the gunman holding Lyn. "That's courage," she told me. The other man lined the .45 up on Johnny. Johnny stretched his arm out, palm straight in the stop sign. It all dissolved then. The men ordered the Grays into the house. One man did all the talking, said Johnny had been taking money off his girl-friend and it had to stop. He was a Provo.
Johnny talked his way out of it and they left.
A week later, the Grays left for England. They bought their own house. Then one day Johnny said: "Lyn, we've only £6,000 left, you'll have to go back to Dublin." That was 1976. Every ten days she'd go "horne" with £1,000 having paid her rent, kept herself and bought her air tickets. She'd work all Friday night, fly to England early Saturday morning, arriving exhausted. In Birmingham she'd wash, iron, sew, clean the house from top to bottom, satisfy Johnny's sexual needs. He never did any house-work when she was away in spite of having a washing machine. Even the dishes awaited her and she'd return to Dublin on Monnday, exhausted and black and blue from her weekly beating. If she came back one week without marks on her she thought she was doing well.
That went on for about twelve months. After one beating too many she left. She had joined the feminist movement and the Prisoners' Rights Organisation and realised that she didn't have to take that treatment. She took two of her children with her. He rang her up one night and asked:
"Is that you slut?"
"Yes ponce," replied Lyn and he blew a gasket. She had to go into hiding. Friends helped her whom she does not wish to name, but among them were Margaret Gaj, feminist and member of the PRO, and the late Lady Longford.
Lyn had always gone to work in a blonde wig so that she wouldn't be recognised. Now Lyn felt she'd nothing left to lose. She went public.
She and Dolores Lynch had become more and more politicised on behalf of prostitutes. They had sought the assistance of the Council for the Status of Women who tried to get an audience about the matter with the then Minister for Justice, Gerry Collins. It was refused. Lyn and Dolores met Jim Finucane who was Michael Keating's secretary. Dolores and Lyn furnished him with the names of the pimps and he produced a paper on prostitution in Ireland. Several of the women gave Jim Finucane their life stories. Jim wanted to open a rehabilitation house for prostitutes. He hoped to get Lyn a job counselling women who went there, paid by the Eastern Health Board. He had faith that Lyn was the one who could get off the game and help other women.
Around that time, Lyn appeared twice on Pat Kenny's radio programme, the Politics programme, had a Saturday profile by Lucille Redmond in the Irish Times and one by Mairead Byrne in In Dublin. Rosita Sweetman included an interview with Lyn in her book, On Our Backs published in 1979.
NOW LYN WAS HER OWN WOMAN. SHE saved £3,500 in The Irish Permanent Building Society to buy a house. She intended starting a new life. Then she met Dave Black. He was a small time crook, good-looking, ten years younger than her. She was 'into him' for about three months, but when she tried to end it he wouldn't go.
Dave didn't want her on the game, but he wanted money. She gave him most of what she saved until her account was empty. "Knives were Dave's forte," says Lyn. "He used to stand looking into sports shop windows at knives and he always carried a blade." She had a lot of trouble with him on and off and took a High Court Injuncction against him to restrain him from interfering with her.
Dave Black was out on bail from Mountjoy where he had been held on the charge of murdering his brother by stabbbing him in the back. Lyn was leaving Gaj's restaurant one night when he came up to her. He was with two other men. and he opened his jacket wide, at the same time saying:
"Have a gun, Lyn." The gun was in his belt.
Dolores, Grace and another woman phoned the police.
When Dave moved off with Lyn, he handed his gun to his mate. The police followed them up to Camden Street, stopped them and asked their names. They asked Lyn if she was with Dave voluntarily. Dave gripped her arm, smiled in her face and said: "Tell the nice man, Lyn."
Lyn nodded. The police left. He held her against her will that night and a few days later, beat her up. It was then she got the injunction against him. Then, one day she bumped into him in town and the whole mess started up again. He said he knew where she was living and that he would be round that night. She said she didn't want that. He said he would be round anyway .
That afternoon, Lyn planned what she would do if Dave kept his word. She was living on the third storey in Ballyymun flats. She lowered her clothes line to the ground to see if it would reach and it did. She barricaded the door. She and her son lifted the washing machine on top of the table and barricaded the kitchen window.
Lyn and her son settled down to wait and sure enough at 11.30pm Dave was banging and shouting at the door. His voice sounded so loud in the living-room that they thought he was inside the hall of the flat.
"I went out on the balcony and stood on the concrete wall that protects you from falling. I grabbed the rope. Tried to lower myself down like I'd seen they do in films. The ropes cut through to the bones of my fingers. I let go. I landed standing up, put a foot out to run and discovered my foot was broken. I sank down and dragged myself over to the wall. It was lashin' rain. 1 looked up and my son was dangling on the rope. I told him to hurry and go fetch the police and he was stuck on the rope.
"Then I saw Dave walking towards me with a blade glinting in his hand. I screamed and said: 'Please don't hurt me Dave, my leg is broken.' He smiled and said: 'So's your face,' and plunged the scissors between my eye-brows. I screamed. I couldn't see with all the blood. He jumped on me and stabbed me four times.
"People started looking out of the windows while i screamed. A man shouted: 'Leave her alone, you dirty bastard.' Dave looked up and roared: 'If you don't shut fuckin' up you'll get the same.' I screamed: 'Help me, someone please help me.' A woman shouted: 'Are you man and Wife? Is it domestic?' "
"Dave said: 'Yes.' I screamed: 'No, no.' Then a tiny woman, on her way home, stood beside them: 'You dirty animal. Get away from her. Leave that woman alone.' Dave walked off. The woman looked up at the flats and screamed: 'Go on, you fuckin' hard men, in your shirt sleeves. There's not a man amongst you.' She shamed a few of them into coming down." Two fellows carried Lyn out of the rain. They put a pillow under her head, sponged her face, gave her a cigarette, put a pillow under her foot and through it all she saw her 13-year-old son's face. He looked so guilty. In the future, his macho father taunted him with the fact that he'd let a man stab his mother. As they were putting
Lyn in the ambulance, the tiny woman told her: "I'll take care of the child."
Lyn met John Cullen for the first time when she was in the Clontarf Orthopaedic Hospital. Her left leg was in traction, her hands bandaged, stitches in her face. John had accompanied Lyn's friend Claire who came to visit her. It' was in hospital that Lyn received her first "formal" proposal of marriage. Dave Black came and told her she was malingering in hospital and she was coming out to spend a month in his mother's house before she married him. She said she would do neither. Dave pulled out a razor blade from his pocket, held it to her throat and said: "You are fuckin' going to marry me." Naturally, she accepted. The woman in the opposite bed sawall this and went on her crutches to the matron. Matron decided visiting time was over, cleared the wards, got Dave out.
When John Cullen made a play for Lyn, everyone she knew warned her off him. He was a dangerous unpredicctable man, they said. As quick as a flash with a knife or a bottle, or a can. There he'd be, smiling, perhaps in a pub or a restaurant, when suddenly he'd lash out and destroy someone. It might seem to some that going from Dave to John was Lyn's complicated method of suicide. She says she needed a "strong" man, someone to protect her from Dave. When Dave heard John Cullen was on the scene, he faded out of Lyn's life.
And John Cullen was affectionate, demonstrative. "He used to hold my hand, even in front of his mates and kiss me and say he loved me. Most blokes don't do that. Sex is one thing, but you know yourself, a cuddle's different."
Lyn and John were together eighteen months before the stabbing of Tommy Carlysle. The disaster happened one night when Lyn left the flat without John's permission and went for a drink with friends. Four of them - Tommy Carlysle, Anthony McConnell, Davy McConnell and Lyn @went back to Grace's flat with chicken curries on Sunday 3 January 1982. Suddenly Cullen arrived at the flat as the others sat at table. He was standing behind Lyn and looking over her shoulder. She said: "Hi stranger." He picked up a sharp knife off the draining board and sliced the blade across her rib-cage. She fell backwards off the chair and John stabbed Tommy Carlysle in the arm-pit.
Anthony McConnell came behind John, twisted his arm back and got the knife from him. John swooped on the draining board, rising with a knife in each hand. Lyn was lying on the floor. He went for her throat, but sliced her ear instead. She was on 'her back kicking him when he threw each of her legs over his shoulders, to get at her with the knife.
That was when Tommy Carlysle hauled him off. While John and Tommy were fighting, Davy ran out of the flat dragging Lyn. Grace had already run. Davy told Lyn to climb the balcony and gain entrance to any flat. Covered with blood, she knocked on a door: "Please, will you let me in?" she begged. "Ah no," said the woman and closed the door. Lyn hid for ages in an ESB box. She came out to see John Cullen driving away so she went back to the flat.
Everything was wrecked and blood everywhere. Nobody there. She went down a flight of stairs and found Tommy unconscious. He couldn't speak and an awful mess was oozing out of the back of his head. Then the police and ambulance were there. They all gave statements, but John Cullen was not arrested. When Tommy Carlysle discovered this, he signed himself out of hospital in a desperate condiition and went to Ballymun police station. Then John Culllen was charged. He got three years and was later brought from Mountjoy prison to face the Lynch murder charges.
The day after the stabbing, John had come back to Lyn.
She asked him what had made him stop stabbing Tommy. John replied that he thought Tommy was dead. He'd then gone home, put his blood-stained clothes to soak, kept brooding about Lyn making a fool of him by going for a drink and then having the nerve to get away from him when he was trying to kill her. He washed and shaved, selected the sharpest implements he could find in the kitchen. Then he went back to finish Lyn off. If he was going to prison for Carlysle he would make sure she was dead first.
JOHN WAS LIVID WHEN LYN WOULDN'T open the door for him. He threatened to get a gun and blast his way in. She let him in. At some stage of the ensuing chaos, Lyn passed out. They were wrestling with a butcher's knife when a meat cleaver appeared in his hand. He told her later that he looked at her lying there unconscious, her face distorted with fear and thought: "This is the woman I love and what am I doing to her? She's destroying me and I have her terrified." He told her: "I read somewhere that the cops can tell by looking at a corpse if it had met with a violent death. Your face was like that."
John was counting the days until he would be up on the charges of stabbing Tommy and Lyn. He stepped up his operations on Dolores. "I'm not worried about doing time," he told Lyn, "it just means I have to get Dolores."
"Dolores was a friend of mine," says Lyn. "I met her when I first came to Dublin. She was witty and kept us amused on many a cold night. Through the early years whenever I needed a friend Dolores Lynch was on the spot. During the first trial, one of the evening papers said: 'I HELPED KILL THREE WOMEN'. In quotes, like that. I never did that. I never said that. I didn't do that. I was in that garden because I was terrified and I'll have to live with that for the rest of my life.
"I hadn't seen Dolores for a while because she had got a job and a new life-style. But I met her one day and she showed me a picture of herself with the Pope. She had gone to see him at his summer home and she was so happy about that picture. She was contented, she loved the old people she worked for in James Hospital. I envied her. She was back with her family. Her mother had always stood by her. She had a job, interests, a new slant on things."
Dolores Lynch was quick to recognise injustice. She was known as the "women's libber" among prostitutes. Before she gave up the game, seven years ago, Dolores was beaten up by John Cullen and another pimp for refusing to pay them money.
She was sitting in a cafe in Baggot Street when John Cullen came in. He stood over her, broke a bottle and aimed it at her face. She put her hand up and it was badly cut. The woman sitting with Dolores, a stranger, said:
"Y ou dirty blackguard," and Cullen let her have it in the face. Dolores had him charged for that. Some weeks later, Dolores and a friend were in the Kentucky Fried Chicken and John Cullen and a friend walked in. John asked for a bottle of coke. The man said they only served cans. John bought a can, walked over to Dolores and smashed it into her face. He gestured to the friend to hold the door shut so that nobody could get in or out, then pushed Dolores onto the ground, straddled her body and proceeded to smash her face with the can. She charged the men. John's bail was lifted.
While Cullen was in prison, four men in balac1avas kicked in the door of Dolores's flat one night. As they were beating her, they said: "Don't go to court." She was saved by an elderly neighbour who heard the noise and knocked on the window. The men left Dolores unconscious.
Now, it was Grace and Davy McConnell who, in terror, went to the police after John had raped Grace. And it was Grace who told them about who killed Dolores. When Lyn was in custody a few hours, the gardai came to her with Grace Trimble's statement. They asked Lyn if she would recognise Grace's signature and she said: "Yes." When they showed it to her she said: "I still don't believe it." She asked could she see Grace. They brought Grace into Lyn. Grace said: "Yes, I made that statement."
Lyn said: "If I make a statement Grace, will you stick by me?" Grace put her arm around Lyn and said: "Lyn, Davy and I are behind you all the way."
Lyn started to cry. Grace said: ''I'm sick and tired of John Cullen. He's not pushing me around any more. Davy's downstairs. If you need bail I'll get my Ma or Davy will get someone to get me the bail."
Then Lyn made the statement. Grace gave depositions.
In the first trial, she didn't seem a willing witness, often answering: "I don't remember." She disappeared the day the date of the second trial was announced.
"I've lived in gangland for 20 years," Lyn says, "and I know what 'grass' means. I signed a statement accounting for my movements on the night of the fire as you are asked to do under Section 30. I did not grass on John Cullen. At
the end of the day I expected to be charged and I was bloody scared. Because if Cullen got out on bail, he'd kill me. But I had to confess my part even if I was charged. I couldn't live with it. It wasn't just robbery. It was murder. Three women died a horrible death. How could I just let him go free to murder more women?
"Two months later when I was giving depositions, John Cullen's barrister stood up and said that I should take legal advice because I had been given no undertaking that I would not be charged with murder. If I gave depositions it could be injurious to myself, he warned."
A guard went swiftly to where Lyn sat and started to say: "I told ... " and she interrupted him there. "I don't give a damn. I'm getting up in the witness box and giving the depositions. I've talked to the Lynchs and it's the least I can do for them," she said. The counsel for the state then produced a letter from the DPP dated March 30 to say there would be no charges brought against Lyn. "So I was granted immunity after I made my statement, but no deal was made with me."
Three days after the interrogation and the statements made by Lyn and Grace Trimble, Lyn was having a drink in The Penthouse, Ballymun, when a man approached her:
"I was offered five thousand pounds to do a job on you." She said: "What do you mean?"
He said: "I was approached in the Meeting Place and told that one of Cullen's friends offered me a £5,000 contract on you." He studied her for a bit and then asked:
"How would you like to go?"
Lyn replied: "In the back of the head so I don't see it coming." He stared a bit longer and then went to the bar to get a drink. Then one of his mates came over and said to Lyn: "Don't take the piss out of him. He's serious."
Grace went hysterical. She and Lyn and Davy MeeConnell went into Ballymun Garda Station asking for police protection. They were told not to be melodramatic and go home to their flat, the murder squad would come out to them. They went home, barricaded their doors.
The next day was Sunday and the police booked the women into a hotel. "I paid the bill," laughs Lyn, "it makes me laugh how everyone in gangland thinks I'm paid for being a grass. I didn't get a penny, unless you count the cost of transport. And it cost me, because I couldn't go to work." On Monday the women were under 24 hour protecction of the Special Task Force.
Grace went to work on the canal for several months. She took a taxi followed by a squad car.
"We both lived in the same flat so that while the Task Force followed Grace I was left at home unprotected. Grace still had her pimp and I didn't so I didn't have to work. I got £28 a week from the Eastern Health Board."
Then Grace decided not to give evidence. There was an argument and Lyn left and went to her own flat. She stayed there for three days without protection. The doors were barricaded. She couldn't sleep. She imagined she heard floor boards creak in a concrete building. On the fourth morning she went to Ballymun Station and rang Kevin Street Station. She told them how she was living and that her nerves were gone. She said if she didn't get protection •.. she was going into Kevin Street with her clothes, her teleevision and her books. She'd stay there until the trial came up.
The gardai sent two detectives out to her. They took her to Kevin Street and sent her back to her flat in a squad car where there was police protection waiting for her.
Under police protection, Lyn didn't go out at all for a few weeks. Then gradually, the gardai were able to perrsuade her to go out for a drive or a cup of coffee. She made special friends among the ban gardai. "One 'banner' got married and asked me to the wedding. She said I was like one of the family. I'd never been to a wedding before. It was lovely to have a few drinks and not worry about being attacked or dragged into a fight. My escort kept me alive, literally, saw me through my day to day crises. It gave me an insight into the guards and for the most part I got on well with them. I began to see things from their side. I fancied one cop from just lookin' at the back of his neck. I hope he never guessed."
When the jury disagreed on the first trial, Lyn thought she'd never face another trial. A woman told her: "You were like a garda giving evidence. How did you feel?" Lyn said she had taken Valium because she was warned not to be lippy in court.
The woman replied: "Don't take any tablets next time.
Just be yourself. You're a woman, not a man in uniform."
People keep asking Lyn what she's going to do now.
"They don't realise," she says, "that it is not just the last year and the deaths I have to come to terms with. It's the last twenty years. I've written 130,000 words about it all. Some days my thumb was swollen from holding the pen and I couldn't write for a couple of days. I'd like it to deter women from going on the streets. To show them the reality of it, but most of all I hope they will believe that the pimps in my book, in all their guises, are true to life. Vicious, slave-owning blood-suckers. It's not the clients who destroy women. It's the pimps. When I think of my freezing feet all those years. All those nights standing out in the cold. For a pimp sittin' in a pub somewhere. And the ones unique to Ireland who support their wives and families off the women on the canal. Nowhere else in the world do pimps live with their wives while living off another woman. Many a woman has had to work extra hours to pay for Holy Communion clothes for the pimps' legitimate children. And I'll always be looking over my shoulder.
"I feel sorry for John Cullen. He's a victim too. I mean, what makes a guy turn out like that? I will never go back on the game again. I know I've said it before but this time I owe it to the Lynchs, I'd sooner starve." •