January 2009

Don’t parole baby killer

THE mother of a baby who was stabbed to death by its father in 2000 does not want him even considered for parole.

Derek Hickey (34) killed his own daughter during an unexplained and frenzied attack nearly nine years ago and has been behind bars since.

However, he is due to be considered for parole this year, leading murdered Leilah’s mother to say: “They should throw away the key.”

Sinead Smullen (27) wants Hickey to remain in Arbour Hill prison for the entire duration of the life sentence he received in 2001.

Hickey, of Penrose House, Newbridge, Co Kildare, stabbed the three-month-old 14 times as she lay in her cot in April 2000.

The discovery was made after her mother, Sinead, was found lying injured on Main Street, Newbridge, and gardai were alerted.

Hickey also admitted to attacking her and was subsequently given a four-year sentence for that knife attack.

She is today reported as saying: “No amount of years behind bars will ever make him rehabilitated.

“He has no remorse for what he did. He’s not a human being.

“They should throw away the key. He is a menace to society.”

After stabbing the helpless child, Hickey went after Sinead and plunged the knife into her neck at the back of their flat in Newbridge.

She was lucky to survive the brutal attack and says: “To this day I still wake up in a cold sweat. I can still feel the knife going into my neck.”

Sinead added: “He missed my jugular vein by one millimetre. I still suffer nerve damage in my arm.”

Since the attack she has moved on with her life but says that she can never forget the pain Hickey inflicted on her and her family.

“I can still smell her on her baby blankets. I’ve never washed them.

“There are so many things I’ve missed out on. Her first word, her first tooth, her first step.

“Her first day at school, her Communion would have been last year if she was still alive.”

According to prison sources, Hickey is due to be considered for parole this year but given the scale of the crime, it would be a tough ask.

Following a Garda investigation, Hickey made a number of statements, in which he admitted that on the night of the assault and killing he and his then partner were arguing.

He said Ms Smullen had threatened to take the baby to her parents’ house but Hickey protested and a row ensued.

July 2001

Killer father gets four-year sentence for knife assault

A man serving a life sentence for the murder of his baby daughter was sentenced at the Central Criminal Court yesterday to a four-year concurrent sentence for a knife assault on the baby’s mother.

Derek Hickey (27) of Penrose House, Newbridge, Co Kildare pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court last month to the charge that on April 30, 2000 in Co Kildare, he murdered three-month-old Leilah Sophie Hickey. He was sentenced to an automatic life imprisonment.

He also pleaded guilty to a second charge that on the same date, he assaulted his then girlfriend Sinead Smullen, of the same address, causing her harm.

Baby Leilah had been found stabbed to death at her family home.

The discovery was made after Ms Smullen was spotted lying injured on Main Street, Newbridge and gardai were alerted. Ms Smullen was transferred to Naas General Hospital and subsequently to St James’ Hospital in Dublin. Hickey was arrested and remanded in custody until he was arraigned and pleaded guilty to the murder of his daughter and the assault of his former girlfriend.

The court was told yesterday that Hickey and Ms Smullen had been shopping in Dublin for the day before returning home to Newbridge to pick up their baby daughter at Ms Smullen’s parent’s home.

The couple left after a couple of hours and walked home, watched some television and then retired to bed. “A row developed which resulted in Sinead getting dressed and saying she was going home to her parents,” the court heard.

The arguing continued and Hickey went to the kitchen and took out a large black-handled knife and began stabbing Ms Smullen in the neck and chest. “Ms Smullen ran out the door screaming and left the flat with Mr Hickey and the baby.”

Sergeant Kevin Lavelle told the court: “The baby was stabbed six times and she died instantly.”

Following a Garda investigation, Hickey made a number of statements, in which he admitted that on the night of April 30, he and his then partner were “arguing and arguing and arguing”.

Hickey said Ms Smullen had threatened to take the baby to her parent’s house but Hickey had protested that if she did that he wouldn’t “be able to see it”

“I stabbed Sinead once in the back, she started screaming. I stabbed her in the chest and she ran out the door screaming.

“The child got it as well. I’m not sure where, near the heart anyway. I dropped the knife, a black-handled knife and ran out the door after realising what I had done.”

Ms Smullen addressed the court and said she was still recovering physically and emotionally from the assault but she wasn’t over it yet. “My right arm suffered from the stab wound to my neck. Emotionally I’m not really recovered at all.”

In a statement through his counsel, Hickey expressed his “sincere sorrow and regret”.

The court heard Hickey had a number of previous convictions for assault and public order offences.

Sentencing Hickey to a four-year concurrent sentence,Mr Justice Paul Carney said he was constrained by the statute of five years and a plea of guilty.