Husband of murdered woman ‘relieved’ as killer refused parole 27 years later

Joyce Quinn (44) was murdered in Kildare by Kenneth O’Reilly in 1996 after she gave him a lift home on a rainy night

The husband of Joyce Quinn has spoken of his “sense of relief” at the decision of the Parole Board of Ireland not to grant parole to her killer, Kenneth O’Reilly, 27 years after her brutal murder on the Curragh in Co Kildare.

Ms Quinn was 44 when she was murdered by O’Reilly, after she gave him a lift home on a rainy night in January 1996. Her family later learned that O’Reilly had been seen hanging around the shop and stalking her in the days leading up to the murder. As she stopped the car to let him out, he savagely stabbed her. While she was dead or dying, he raped her, before stabbing her again in the neck.

O’Reilly was arrested a week later but waited 20 months before pleading guilty to her murder and was granted a life sentence. He was never charged with her rape, however.

On June 23rd of this year, Ray Quinn – together with his daughter Nicole, who is one of the couple’s three children – became among the first family members to make an oral submission to the new Parole Board of Ireland, in advance of O’Reilly’s fifth application for parole.


The Parole Act 2019 allows family members of victims to make an oral statement which must be taken into account by the board when making its recommendation. Mr Quinn and his daughter found the whole experience “very compassionate. They made us feel very much at ease.”

This week Mr Quinn got a phone call and a letter informing him that O’Reilly’s application for parole had been turned down, because of the nature and gravity of the offence. “It’s a sense of relief. We can relax now for another 18 or 20 months,” he said. O’Reilly, who has never apologised for his crime, will be eligible to reapply in two years.

Mr Quinn’s immense relief is tinged with a sadness that never fades. “The horror does not go away. Joyce would be 70 if she was still alive,” he says recalling how his wife once remarked about another, older woman, “‘I’d like to look like her when I’m 70.’ But she never got that chance.”

Addressing the board, Nicole spoke about her mother’s work ethic and “what a good person she was. People say you can’t see love but you can and I could practically touch it. Mum glowed with it.”

Jennifer O'Connell

Jennifer O'Connell

Jennifer O’Connell is Opinion Editor with The Irish Times