Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Northern Ireland charity uses killer who raped dying wife for house calls

Fears over twisted wife-killer's access to women after he lands job as furniture courier for charity

By Ciaran Barnes

A sex killer who raped his dying wife is working as a delivery driver for a charity and calling to the homes of unsuspecting females.

Evil predator Anthony Conlon is shacked up in a house on the edge of Portadown close to his place of work - the Helping Hands Community Outreach Project.

The 47-year-old monster drives a van for the charity that donates second-hand furniture to the needy.

What women who welcome him inside their homes do not know is that the seemingly cheery delivery driver is one of Northern Ireland's most notorious sex beasts.

Conlon murdered his wife Fiona in 1997 after she left him because of his violent rages.

He stabbed the mother of his two children and then raped her as she lay dying in a field opposite their former home at Ballysaggart Park in Dungannon.

The monster was jailed for life with a minimum 16-year term for the sex killing before being freed on licence in 2014.

According to sources he has since remarried and now works for Helping Hands, whose other employees include suspected former UVF man Alan Oliver.

The loyalist was named in High Court papers as the gunman who allegedly murdered teenagers Eileen Duffy (19), Katrina Rennie (16) and Brian Frizzell (29) in the 1991 Craigavon mobile shop massacre.

Last night a relative of tragic Fiona told Sunday Life: "He is a very dangerous individual who, in my view, should still be in jail to this day."

When Sunday Life tried to speak to Conlon at his home yesterday, the pervert failed to respond on multiple occasions.

Well-placed sources who know Conlon from his time in the high-security Maghaberry Prison expressed shock that he could secure a job that sees him go inside the homes of vulnerable women.

One ex-prison officer told us: "Anthony Conlon is a monster in every sense of the word, he's violent, volatile and perverted.

"I'm baffled as to how Helping Hands thought it would be a good idea to give him a job.

"I know it's a religious charity that believes in giving people second chances, but Conlon isn't someone who deserves one.

"Any woman whose house he has been inside delivering furniture has had their life put at risk."

Sunday Life contacted Helping Hands for a comment on the matter, but they failed to respond.

Conlon's wife Fiona was reported missing on March 4, 1997, with her body being found in a field opposite her Dungannon home later that day.

He was arrested and took police to the spot where his wife's body had been part-hidden in a stream.

The pervert lied that they had met their willingly, had consensual sex, and that afterwards he was knocked unconscious by a masked man carrying a knife.

Detectives noted that Fiona had been placed face down in the water with her head fully submerged and that she was wearing her husband's coat.

Further examination revealed a large stab wound to her back and evidence that she had been raped.

A panicked Conlon, who had a court order banning him from contacting his wife, continued to lie to police.

Throughout five interviews he maintained the pretence that they had met for consensual sex and were attacked by an unknown male armed with a knife.

It was only during the sixth interview that he admitted murdering his wife - claiming his actions were sparked by an argument over his access to their children.

Conlon admitted "losing it", but maintained that he did not mean to kill Fiona and did not realise the knife wound would prove fatal.

He said that after stabbing his wife he gave her his coat as she was cold and they walked to the field where they had sex.

Afterwards Conlon claimed he subsequently realised she was dead and "motionless" so he put her clothes back on and dragged her to the stream in which she was found.

In December 1998 he was found guilty by a jury of murdering Fiona, having argued unsuccessfully that the killing was manslaughter. Sentencing Conlon, the then Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Kerr said the jury had been unpersuaded by the accused's "rather improbable account offered at interview".

Her death at just 28 years old had a huge impact on her four children, the two youngest of whom were to Conlon.

The kids were split up and had to live between two aunts, who accused the authorities of failing their sister.

In a letter written to the court that sentenced Conlon, a furious Una Sherry, who cared for Fiona's youngest children, pointed out that her sister's murderer was on bail at the time of the killing, and both the police and Social Services "knew what he was capable of".

In a statement to the Crown Court in 2009, the sex killer insisted that he was a changed man having taken part in sex offenders' training programmes.

Conlon expressed remorse, acknowledged that the murder and rape of his wife was a "most horrendous crime" and said he took full responsibility for his actions and the hurt and distress they caused. However, Sir Brian Kerr said: "I entertain grave reservations about the genuineness of this. Certainly his performance at interview and the manner in which he contested the case do not partake of the behaviour of someone who was genuinely repentant."

Setting his minimum jail sentence at 16 years, Sir Brian said Conlon had "sexually degraded" Fiona.

He also said: "There is every reason to believe that it (the murder) was planned. The inference that the prisoner brought the knife to the murder scene is overwhelming."

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