FATAL ATTRACTION; Devil Stalked Imelda for 3 Weeks before He Brutally Killed Her; O'Donnell Never Got over Break-Up with His Only Girlfriend

Article excerpt

ARTIST Imelda Riney was the innocent victim of a fatal attraction - and paid the price with her life.

Her death was destined by something as haphazard as her choice of house.

After her marriage broke up she decided to do up a derelict farm cottage which had once been used as a squat by the 22-year-old drifter.

And when he returned from England in the spring of 1994 the young man's fancy turned to the woman he saw in "his house".

He built up a picture of the 29-year-old beauty by quizzing villagers in nearby Whitegate. Then he started to stalk Imelda. The three-week count- down to her death had begun. Detectives never believed his tale that he and the pretty Dubliner were lovers.

But the New Age hippie became one of his obsessions along with his belief he was the Devil's disciple.

Estranged

He stalked out her remote cottage from a haybarn 30 yards away.

For days he watched Imelda with her sons Oisin, eight and Liam, three. From time to time she acknowledged him and took him some food.

Imelda hadn't been in the house for long. She bought it when she moved back to Ireland from Manchester after parting from husband Val Ballance.

The couple remained friends. He spent weekends at her Whitegate home visiting the kids.

He was on a visit when the drifter began to stalk his estranged wife. But O'Donnell wasn't put off.

Police believe he waited for Ballance to go out then forced Imelda at gun point to have sex.

Fearing for Liam who was alone with her she didn't put up a fight.

Detectives are adamant it was a one-off. A senior officer said: "O'Donnell lied that she was his lover. In all his life he had only two fascinations, guns and cars. But he became obsessed with Imelda and the Devil. He didn't chat up women. He raped Imelda at gun point."

Having had his evil way O'Donnell took Imelda and Liam to nearby Cregg Wood, where he shot them.

He told the jury the devil ordered him to do it because "she was the Devil's daughter".

But it was Brendan O'Donnell, not the Devil's finger on the trigger.

THE LUCKY GIRL

WHO GOT AWAY

AN attractive 20-year-old student told the jury how she escaped being O'Donnell's fourth victim.

Fiona Sampson was lucky. After kidnapping her and forcing her to drive his getaway car at gunpoint, O'Donnell made it clear he had nothing to lose by killing her.

But her promised her: "It'll be quick."

Fiona told how she was hustled from home near Whitegate, Co Clare after the masked killer broke in and greeted her like an old friend. …