FACING the love of her life as they exchanged vows, Mary Gough stared into her husband’s eyes – unaware that he was secretly planning his death.
Just six months later, Colin Whelan strangled the 27-year-old and threw her down the stairs in an attempt to make her death look like an accident, hoping to cash in on a police charge. 400,000 pounds of life insurance he had taken out.
The then 29-year-old killer called emergency services in a flood of tears while pretending to be deprived of his wife’s death on March 1, 2001, and even initially cheating on his friends and family for his innocence.
It would take almost two years to put him on trial after he fled Ireland using a passport in another man’s name.
Looking back, Mary’s crushed mother, Marie, said, “He must have never thought of Mary and our family. He must never have loved her at all, and he thought only of himself.”
Rescuers initially thought the sudden death was an accident, but it was to be reported to the Irish Garda (police) according to protocol.
But a shocking pathological report revealed that they were in fact dealing with murder. Mary had been strangled and there was a small ligature mark on her neck.
At first it seemed that there was little evidence that Colin was behind the murder when he was seen as a loving husband in a caring relationship and did not fit the profile of a killer.
Mary’s best friend, Sinead Howard Byrne, said: “I’ve never seen Colin as a violent man. I thought he was very sweet to Mary. He was nice. He bought gifts for her all the time, and he seemed like the perfect man. .
But Mary’s mother Marie thought her daughter looked unhappy on her wedding day and even more unhappy when she returned from her honeymoon.
She said: “After Mary returned from her honeymoon, I noticed a change. Mary was more calm and she was not dressed as before and Colin no longer seemed the same.
“The week before, what happened to her, she called me every night. When I think about it now, I realize she must have tried to tell me something, but could not.”
When police searched Whelan’s computers, they discovered that all of their logs had been deleted.
Fortunately, Colin’s workplace had a backup copy of all the staff computers and enabled Garda to find research from the two months prior to his wedding. It was revealed that he was investigating how to strangle or strangle someone.
Sargent investigator Frank Gallagher said: “It was like watching a bad horror movie.”
They also discovered that he had been looking for the American serial killer Henry Wallace, whose modus operandi was to strangle victims without leaving a trace.
hidden affair online
Whelan’s search history also provided a pattern. He had had an affair with a woman in Wales over an online chat that he had promised to move home with.
On top of that, he had taken out a life insurance policy for himself and Mary for £ 400,000, which lasted for 10 years and gave no refund if it was not picked up.
Police determined that it was clear he intended to make money.
He was charged with the murder of his wife and released on bail, but just six months later he disappeared and tried to pretend he had committed suicide.
It triggered a 14-month manhunt around the world before two tips linked him to Karama Bar in Mallorca.
He was a bartender at this luxury resort when a school friend saw him while on vacation. He reported Whelan, who went by the name Martin Sweeny, to the police.
Site manager Des Mitchell said: “There are a lot of people coming to Mallorca on the run from something. We never asked what they were running from.
Ex forced to self-abort
Mary’s mother Marie said, “When I heard that Colin had disappeared, I thought justice would never be done.”
Fortunately for the family, Colin became the first person to be successfully extradited from Spain to Ireland.
Before the trial, where he eventually pleaded guilty, it emerged that he had tried to force an ex-girlfriend to have an abortion, and when she refused, he kicked her in the stomach, triggering a miscarriage.
While admitting to his horrific crime and issuing an apology, not a single member of Mary’s family thinks he has ever cared for her.
Marie said, “He was not sorry when he did what he did. And he would never have been sorry, only he was caught.
“It was something he was upset about. He got caught. »
Getting Away With Murder: The Killing of Mary Gough is on Channel 5 tonight at 10pm.