BRUTAL, depraved and sordid. Michael Bambrick’s killings have assured him a unique place in the annals of Irish murder.
His crimes must rank as among the most grisly – and at times amateurish – ever seen here. Few killers have strangled their victims, dismembered their bodies and concealed the evidence, only to use a bicycle and a wheelbarrow to dispose of the remains. And cross dress to try to put people off the scent.
But Bambrick was far more than just a blundering sadist who went too far in a sex game.
The manner in which he killed his two victims, in September 1991 and July 1992, led Judge Paul Carney to warn that he was likely to reoffend.
Both Patricia McGauley and Mary Cummins were strangled with tights after – Bambrick claimed – engaging in bondage sessions.
Jailing him for 18 years, Carney, now the most esteemed criminal judge in the country, starkly warned that he had “a propensity to reoffend.”
“The probability is that he will have a pent-up appetite for his form of bondage,” the judge stated.
Bambrick had a propensity for cross-dressing, bondage and violence.
He was born in 1952 in the UK but later came to live in Dublin, with his family, and at the time of the killings resided at St Ronan’s Park in Clondalkin.
This property, which he shared with his common law wife Patricia McGauley, later became known as the House of Horrors after details of the killings emerged.
His first killing took place on September 12, 1991 when Bambrick suffocated his common law wife Patricia McGauley following a bondage session. He had been drinking heavily beforehand.
In a surreal twist, Bambrick then put on Patricia’s clothes, lipstick and heels and strolled around St Ronan’s Park. He was spotted by suspicious neighbours – but they weren’t aware of what he had just done.
Bambrick, who had locked his wife’s body in a box room at their small home, took their daughter to school the next day before returning to cut up the remains.
The killer then used a knife and a hacksaw to dismember Patricia’s body, removing her head, arms and legs. He then cycled, with the remains in a bag, to an illegal dump at Balgaddy, Lucan, and buried the body parts. A day later he made a second bike trip to the dump, this time with Patricia’s torso.
As Patricia remained a missing person, Bambrick remained at large.
On July 23, 1992 he went drinking on Francis Street in the south inner city, where he met Mary Cummins. He plied her with alcohol as their children played together in the bar. Hours later, again during a bondage session, he strangled her using a pair of tights, which he’d stuffed in her mouth.
Once again he stashed the body in the boxroom of the house. The following day he used a hacksaw to cut off Cummins’s legs and put them into a refuse bag. This time he used a wheelbarrow to transport the dismembered pieces to a large field close to Balgaddy school. Three months later, Bambrick was quizzed over the disappearance of the woman, but he denied involvement.
More than two years then passed before Bambrick was again arrested, this time after an allegation of physical abuse of a child. In the months afterwards, gardai dug up his back garden and, in a search of the St Ronan’s Park house, found blood on floorboards there.
In June 1995, he was arrested for an unrelated firearms offence and, after questioning, broke down and admitted his role in the murders. He showed gardai where he concealed the woman’s remains.
He was charged with two counts of murder but the charge was reduced at this trial, in July 1996. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter instead and was jailed for 18 years.
Judge Carney said he wanted to jail Bambrick for life but could not do so because of existing case law. The killer was freed in April, 2009.
Writing in the Herald yesterday ex-detective superintendent PJ Browne warned that Bambrick could attack again.
“In my professional experience, Michael Bambrick represents a type of sadistic killer who is all but impossible to rehabilitate,” he stated, echoing the remarks of Judge Carney more than 15 years ago.
Since his release Bambrick has lived a quiet life. Instead he has lived under the raidar, in west Dublin. One of the country’s most sadistic killers, he has not come to garda attention, and remains a free man.
This post first appeared in the Evening Herald, February 28, 2012.