Man sentenced to life for murder of woman in North Cork last year

A 64 year old Limerick man has been sentenced to life for the murder of his former partner in Doneraile last year.

The body of 72 year old Mary O’Keeffe was found in a burnt out car in February last year.

Michael Leonard from Kilmallock in Limerick pleaded guilty to her murder after a court heard he had become “increasingly obsessed” with her after she ended their relationship in late 2019.

Mary O’Keeffe was a widowed mother of three and she first met Leonard at a dance in 2016. She was unaware he was married the court heard, and was then led to understand he was getting a divorce.

In Autumn 2019, she told him she wanted to end their relationship. The following year she told friends that he was smothering her and she did not know what he was capable of.

On the afternoon of the 4th February 2021, the court heard Leonard arranged to meet Mary O’Keeffe at Drumdeer Woods in Doneraile.

She got into his car and within minutes the vehicle was engulfed in a fire that burned for an hour.

In sentencing, Mr. Justice Paul McDermott said the court had heard details of the most horrific attack and a terrible loss had been inflicted on the family.

He imposed the mandatory sentence of life in prison.


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