'Dangerous and devious' Joe O'Reilly 'should never be let out', say Rachel's family

Joe O'Reilly
By Cormac O'Keeffe
Security Correspondent

The elderly parents of murdered mum Rachel O'Reilly have hit out at having to go through the trauma of parole applications by her killer husband Joe every two years, saying it was “like opening a sore” each time.

Rose and Jim Callaly said Joe O'Reilly was a “psychopath” who would be a “danger to the public” if he was ever let out.

Rose and Jim Callaly. Archive photo
Rose and Jim Callaly. Archive photo

Joe O'Reilly was convicted in July 2007 for the murder of his wife, with whom they had two children, at their home in Naul, north Dublin, on 4 October 2004.

He had bludgeoned her to death.

The killer has made a third application for parole, which will be assessed by the Parole Board.

He has previously made two applications and was turned down, but can make fresh applications every two years.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Rose Callaly said it came as a “bombshell” when she realised the parole hearings would take place every two years.

Rachel O
Rachel O'Reilly

“I always thought it was three years – even that is far too much,” she said.

“The fact that it is going to come up every two years is like opening a sore.”

Jim Callaly said it brings it all up again and said that for “convicted, premeditated murderers” it was a “bit hard to take”.

Rose said: “I hope to God he doesn't get out and I hope he never gets out while I'm alive. I have first-hand knowledge of what he was capable of.

He decided he was going to do away with Rachel's life for whatever reason. I feel he has a life now. He didn't afford that to Rachel.

Jim added: “He's a psychopath and he would be a danger to let out on the public.”

The couple, along with their sons, have sent letters to the Parole Board to consider in their assessment of Joe O'Reilly's application.

In his letter, Jim said: “Writing this letter about all the horrible times we had I found it upsetting to recall it all, from the early times when I used to sit upright in the bed screaming with nightmares I was going through, thinking of the savage and cruel attack her husband and father of her two children inflicted to end her young life at 30 years of age.

“I thought several times I would lose my sanity, the devastating effect it had on Rose and our children.

"He ruined several people's lives, he's a very dangerous and devious person and he should never be let out of prison.”

Rose said that she should have the right to attend the Parole Board hearing to see what case Joe O'Reilly was making to be released and to “see his face”.

They recounted the time, just two days after their daughter's funeral, when Joe O'Reilly persuaded them to come down to the home, claiming it had brought him inner peace and proceeded to reenact what the murderer must have done.

“After that day I had no doubt whatsoever that he was the murderer,” said Rose.

Jim said the “eyes were jumping out of his head” as he did the reenactment and said that was how he got “his kicks”.

But it still took time for him to believe Rose that he was the killer, saying it was a “fierce shock”.

Rose Callaly, pictured in 2009
Rose Callaly, pictured in 2009

Rose said it would be “some sort of solace” if Joe O'Reilly admitted his actions.

Parole Board figures show that the average sentence served by 21 life sentence prisoners granted parole in 2017 was 18 years.

That compared to 18.5 years in 2016 and between 17-18 in 2014.

An opposition Parole Board Bill, which has been accepted by the Government, would increase the seven-year threshold for the first parole application by a life sentence prisoner to 12 years.

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