Postman sentenced to three life terms for Christmas Day murders

A postman has been sentenced to three life terms after pleading guilty to the murder of a woman and her two young children, whose bodies were found following a fire which destroyed their rural farmhouse on Christmas Day last.

Two of the sentences are to run concurrently.

Brian Hennessy (aged 23), from Windgap, Kilkenny, strangled 30-year-old Sharon Whelan before setting her rented farmhouse on fire, killing her daughters Zsara (aged seven) and two-year-old Nadia.

Ms Whelan's semi-naked body was found lying face down in the bedroom of her home at Roscon on Christmas morning, along with the bodies of her two children.

They were discovered by neighbours who spotted smoke coming from their dilapidated rented farmhouse at about 8.45am.

Mr Hennessy had initially denied murdering the three.

This morning as his trial was due to get underway local postman Hennessy dramatically entered guilty pleas to three counts of murder at the Central Criminal Court.

The jury was discharged prior to sentencing.

The court had heard Ms Whelan's father was the last person to see her alive as he dropped off presents late on Christmas Eve for the children.

In court, Sharon Whelan's brother John described the murders as an "act of pure evil".

He spoke briefly after sentencing.

"We the Whelan family are happy that this ordeal has come to an end," he said.

"This man Brian Hennessy, through his admission, has not put us through the trauma of a long trial."

"Although his sentence will not bring our girls back, it does go some way to bring some relief to our family," he added.

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