The mother of Joleen Corr has said she is "relieved" after her daughter's killer was handed his 16 year minimum tariff for an attack which left her daughter with permanent and severe brain damage which ended her life.
Speaking shortly after her daughters killer was handed his 16 year minimum tariff, Joleen’s grieving mum Carol said there are “a lot of mixed emotions...but there’s relief as well that justice has been served.”
Michael O’Connor (34), who appeared at Downpatrick Crown Court via videolink from prison, clapped and rubbed his hands together at the end of the hour-long hearing on Thursday.
Judge Geoffrey Miller QC told the “physical and psychological” bully he would serve at least the full 16 years behind bars for the murder of Joleen Corr and would only be released under a lifelong licence when the Parole Commissioners considered it safe to do so.
Praising the “dignity and fortitude” of Joleen’s family who also watched proceedings by video conference call, the judge described Joleen as a “bubbly young woman” whose life was “cruelly cut short” by the actions of O’Connor.
“Whether he got 16 years or 25 years doesn’t make a difference,” said Carol, “it’s not going to bring Joleen back and it won’t take away our pain.”
“He is a serial woman beater and abuser who sought out vulnerable people...he is just evil,” says Carol adding that Joleen’s death “has been like a life sentence for us - our pain will never go away and we will live with it for the rest of our lives.”
Carol also praised the actions of the police and prosecution and “everybody who helped bring this man to justice, they all did a fabulous job and I take my hat off to them.”
O’Connor claimed that he and mother-of-one, 27-year-old Joleen had been fighting over her mobile phone at the top of the stairs on December, 1, 2016 when O’Connor lashed out, punching Joleen so hard that he broke her jaw, “propelling her down the stairs” at her home in Thomas Russell Park in Downpatrick.
O’Connor went to bed and in the morning, casually had a bath and took a bus to Belfast with the couples’ five-year-old son where he had a haircut, essentially leaving Joleen to die.
She had sustained a brain injury which was so severe that doctors initially opted not to treat her. Joleen was left in a vegetative state until a landmark ruling in 2018 when doctors withdrew life support and she tragically died on April 26.
O’Connor had been due to go on trial last February but at the 11th hour, with a jury sworn and witnesses poised to testify, he asked to be re-arraigned and finally admitted his guilt, firstly to manslaughter and then when that was not accepted by prosecuting QC Philip Mateer, to her murder.
Sentencing O’Connor Judge Miller said that O’Connor’s actions that night “has to be seen in the context of a man who used violence, both physical and psychological as a means of control” and was the culmination of continual domestic violence perpetrated against Joleen who was vulnerable and with a child in the house.
“One shudders to think what that little boy witnessed or heard,” said the judge.