Northern Ireland

Co Westmeath mother jailed for life for murdering two children in car fire

Thelma and Michael Dennany, who were killed by their mother in a car fire in Co Westmeath in September 2022
Thelma and Michael Dennany, who were killed by their mother in a car fire in Co Westmeath in September 2022 Thelma and Michael Dennany, who were killed by their mother in a car fire in Co Westmeath in September 2022

A Co Westmeath woman who murdered her two children by setting a car they were in on fire has been sentenced to life in prison.

Lynn Eagar (49), of Winetown, Rathowen, was also in the vehicle when she set it alight at a rural road in Lackan, Multyfarnham, on September 9 last year.

She pleaded guilty to murdering her son and daughter Thelma (5) and Michael Dennany (2) at Dublin’s Central Criminal Court.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott sentenced her to life for each of the murders.

The court was told that Eagar was sitting in the car’s passenger seat, and was pulled to safety from the blaze by a passerby and received only “minimal” burns, while the two children suffered fatal injuries.

Michael was also pulled from the fire, but could not be saved. His sister was so badly burned that people at the scene were initially unaware she had been sitting in the rear seat.

In a statement read to the court, the children’s father, Michael Dennany, said their births had been the happiest days of his life.

He described Thelma as the “best big sister ever” to Michael, who had “wanted to do everything for him”.

“From the moment they met they were stuck together like glue -fearless, mischievous partners in crime,” he said.

Mr Dennany explained how on the day they were murdered, he had planned to collect chestnuts with them after school, adding: “We never got to do that.”

“Their daddy should have been there to protect them. When they needed me the most, I was useless,” he said.

“When I left them that morning, they were asleep, I didn't get a chance to say goodbye…I used to come home to a busy home full of noise and toys and love.

“The toys are still there, but not the noise or the love…just heartache and despair.”

He spoke of hoping to see the children marry in the future.

“I never thought I would bury them,” he said.

“The only comfort I have is that they are together forever.”

Eagar’s barrister read out a letter from her in which she said she wished to apologise for the “pain, horror and suffering” she had caused over the loss of her “gorgeous children”.

“Looking back, there were other avenues I could and should have travelled,” she said, adding she was “full of regret”.