'A life sentence without our Jennifer': Dornan family react to killer Raymond O'Neill's sentencing

The family of a murdered mother-of-three say no sentence 'will ever be enough' for her killer.

Raymond O'Neill stabbed Jennifer Dornan to death before setting fire to her Lagmore home in west Belfast in 2015 in a bid to cover his tracks.

On Friday, the 44-year-old formerly of Amcomri Street in Belfast, was handed a minimum of 22 years for murder and a sentence of seven years for arson to be served concurrently. He has lodged an appeal to the sentence.

Following his sentencing, the Dornan family said they have to suffer a "life sentence without our Jennifer."

Jennifer's family say her children miss their mum.

They said: "No sentence today can ever be enough for what he did."

"Jennifer was a brilliant mum, who has been robbed of the chance to see her children grow up. Her children miss their mum, and will grow up without her.

"It is nearly seven years since Jennifer was killed. To us, it feels like it was yesterday.

"We cannot stop thinking about the fear Jennifer must have felt. What he did plays over and over in our minds."

Referring to O'Neill's denial of the charges and decision to lodge an appeal against his conviction, the Dornan family said their experience has been "made worse by his actions."

They said: "He has never admitted what he did. He has shown no remorse. He has prolonged this whole process, which has added to our pain and grief.

"He not only killed Jennifer, but by setting fire to the family home, he destroyed many happy memories. He destroyed the families belongings.

"Nothing can bring Jennifer back."

The head of the Public Prosecution Service's Serious Crime Unit said Raymond O'Neill showed a "callous disregard for Jennifer’s family throughout by continuing to deny what he has done."

Ciaran McQuillan said: “Jennifer was alone and vulnerable when O’Neill followed her home and entered her house uninvited.

"In what must have been a terrifying ordeal, he attacked her, stabbing her to death with a knife from her own kitchen.

"He then set fire to Jennifer’s home with her inside, presumably in an attempt to destroy evidence, before fleeing Northern Ireland shortly afterwards to evade arrest."

O'Neill's denies the charges and has lodged an appeal against his conviction. Credit: Pacemaker

He added: "Despite his conviction for her murder, his denials mean we still do not know why he targeted Jennifer or the full circumstances in which she died. “The loss of Jennifer has caused her loved ones immeasurable anguish, which was compounded as the case against O’Neill unfolded.

"They have shown great strength, bravery and patience throughout the investigation and prosecution process, and we thank them for that."

Jennifer's family say she was robbed of the chance to see her children grow up. Credit: Pacemaker

Mr McQuillan also said: "Jennifer is but one of far too many women who have been murdered in Northern Ireland in recent years.

"We in the PPS are aware that violence and the fear of violence has a devastating impact on the lives of women and girls.

“The PPS is committed to working with all our partners in the criminal justice system and other stakeholders to do all we can to tackle the scourge of violence against women and girls in our society."