The family of Nicola Collins have expressed relief at the murder conviction of 45-year-old Cathal O'Sullivan this afternoon but suggested they will be haunted by the "unimaginable terror" of her final hours.
Cathal O'Sullivan was jailed for life after he was found guilty of the murder of Nicola Collins, who he beat to death at his flat in Cork city in March 2017.
Nicola's father Michael and Carly Collins, her sister, spoke to the media outside the court today and said they were angry the way O'Sullivan tried to cover up what he did.
Carly Collins said that the family will be forever haunted by "the thought of the pain she must have suffered, and the unimaginable terror she surely felt in her final hours".
Speaking about the "vilification" of Nicola's character during the course of the trial, Ms Collins said that the "vile allegations heard in recent days have left us feeling disturbed and embittered".
She said that her sister whom she loved and admired was not the person that she had been portrayed as in court.
"Nic was vulnerable. Her on-and-off struggles with alcohol were an emotional rollercoaster, the downside of which left her feeling alone at times.
These issues however did not define her, did not change the fact that she was a vivacious, fun person who was dearly loved. It did not mean she was undeserving of dignity and respect.
Ms Collins said that her only sister struggled with very low self-esteem and confronted many tough times in her life.
"To think of her, a person in need of love and kindness, being met with cold-hearted brutality, is beyond heartbreaking."
Nicola's three sons were left shocked and despondent at the sudden loss of their mother and friend, said Ms Collins.
They were totally distraught at not being able to talk to her one last time, or to tell her how much she was loved.
Ms Collins said that Nicola's family and friends had had high hopes for "the bright future she deserved" but that it had been taken away.
"Nic was a sister, daughter, mother and friend. The shock of losing her still feels like a bad dream, one that we wish we could wake up from. Her loss will be felt permanently, for the rest of our lives."
Nicola's father, Michael, said that the trial had been extremely difficult for the family.
"It has been a second ordeal to us," said her father, Michael.
It was excruciating to listen to the medical evidence, the vilification of Nicola's character.
"She was besmirched by this man and he did nothing at all to help her even when she was in very bad pain he did nothing to help her."
Mr Collins and her sister went on to say Nicola was an amazing person who would always be in their heart and minds.
The jury took three hours and 58 minutes to find Cathal O'Sullivan, originally from Charleville, County Cork, guilty to a charge of murdering Nicola Collins on March 27 2017 at a flat at 6A Popham's Road, Farranree, Cork, over the Gala store.
The late Ms Collins was a native of St Brendan’s Park in Tralee, Co Kerry, but who had been living at Clashduv Road in the Togher area of Cork for a number of years.
Ms Justice Eileen Creedon imposed the mandatory life sentence after the nine men and three women of the jury returned with their unanimous verdict.
Cathal O'Sullivan denied the charge throughout the trial and claimed Ms Collins had fallen.