Belfast Telegraph

Ex-GAA star has shown no guilt over sister's death

By Amy Molloy

The landlord of a house where two Irish students died in a fire "never apologised" after he was found guilty over the blaze that killed them, the family of one of the girls has claimed.

Former Antrim hurler Malachy Vallely, director of the Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe and owner of the student accommodation in Belgium where Dace Zarina (22), from Co Galway, and Sara Gibadlo (19), from Co Longford, died in 2014, was convicted on September 5.

He received a €6,000 fine and a one-year suspended sentence.

The family of Sara Gibadlo said that while "some justice" was achieved, the outcome is not what they had hoped for.

"They were found guilty, and fair enough, but we just can't comprehend how somebody's life is worth €6,000... our daughter's life was worth more than that," Malgorzta Gibadlo said.

"Also, the day after the case, we went down to place some flowers for the girls and on our way back... I can't even describe in words... we were so shocked to see him (Vallely) walking in the opposite direction, laughing away and talking on the phone.

"He looked at us, but he didn't recognise us. He didn't appear for the verdict and the way he is conducting himself, the way he tried to blame others, is just heartbreaking and unfair."

Ms Zarina and Ms Gibadlo were on student placements at the Leuven Institute. The Gibadlo family said Sara had hoped to become a primary school teacher.

"She was always smiling and she always knew how to include everyone in a conversation," her younger sister Maggie said.

"She was like my mom - I could trust her with my life."

At one court hearing, Vallely was called a "slum landlord" who used student accommodation as a "cash cow" to enrich himself.

Vallely, a former county hurler for Antrim, was said to have transformed the institute into a significant cultural settlement for Irish students since the 1980s.

Through his persuasion, the college received £3m from the Stormont Executive, as well as money from the Irish Government, to invest in facilities and restore the place.

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