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The Killing of Mary Gough: what happened to Colin Whelan?

Channel 5's new true-crime documentary examined the murder of Mary Gough

mary gough doc
Francesca Shillcock
Senior Features Writer
30 March 2022
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Channel 5 aired a true-crime documentary examining the shocking murder of Mary Gough – who made headlines when she was tragically killed in 2001.

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The horrific crime against Mary shocked the world and sparked an international manhunt before her husband, Colin Whelan, was eventually arrested and charged with murder. Read on to find out more about the documentary and where Colin is now.

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Fans were naturally shocked while watching the documentary. One person wrote on Twitter: "Spent two hrs watching documentary on #MaryGough in 2001, six months after she married. Why was her husband allowed to roam free for over 2 years and then escaped to a new life?" 

Another tweeted drily: "I'm beginning to think that Whelan might have done it... #GettingAwayWithMurder," as a third added: "I think he almost certainly did it. Plain evil #GettingAwayWithMurder."

What happened to Mary Gough?

On February 28, 2001, an emergency phone call was made by Colin Whelan who said his wife had fallen down the stairs at their home in Balbriggan, Dublin, and needed an ambulance.

The telephone call from Colin was since released and reported to the public and documented him telling emergency staff he didn't think his wife was breathing. Sadly, Mary, who was 29 at the time, was pronounced dead upon arrival at their local hospital.

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colin whelan channel 5© Photo: Channel 5

The murderer was first arrested in 2001

The crime shocked everybody and stumped authorities – who soon realised after a post mortem that they had a murder case on their hands.

The case even became the subject of a popular true-crime podcast which featured the detective inspector who investigated the case at the time, Pat Marry. Speaking on The Making of a Detective podcast for The Irish Sun, the since-retired officer explained how it soon came to light that Colin had planned to murder his wife after researching other killers online.

"We discovered he was researching a guy in North Carolina called Henry Louis Wallace, who was convicted of nine murders of women and each time he strangled his victim without leaving a strangle mark," the former detective explained. "And he'd be at the scene himself when the police had arrived. He was eventually convicted of nine murders."

After a lengthy investigation, Pat and his team eventually unveiled key forensic evidence to prove Colin's guilt including blood particles and a dressing gown robe belt which had Mary's DNA on it. They also discovered his hard drive which proved he was researching how to commit murder for over a year before the attack.

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colin and mary gough© Photo: Channel 5

Colin in now facing a life sentence

Where is Colin Whelan now?

After evidence presented itself, the Irish authorities soon arrested Colin and charged him with the murder of his wife, Mary. But it wasn't as simple as putting him away in prison.

Following his arrest, Colin was bailed and told to surrender his passport and sign on every day to his local garda station while proceedings of the case continued on in the background. However, Colin managed to escape when his car was discovered on a hill overlooking the sea. But his body was not found, prompting many to think he had staged his own death and ran away.

mary gough doc© Photo: Channel 5

Mary was tragically murdered by her husband in 2001

According to newspaper reports, Colin was then found in July 2004 in Majorca after a tourist had recognised Colin – who was going by a different name at the time – and reported him to the police. Just a year later, he was in court and pleaded guilty for murder. He remains in prison serving a life sentence.

How can I watch Getting Away with Murder: The Killing of Mary Gough?

Getting Away with Murder: The Killing of Mary Gough airs on Channel 5 on Wednesday 29 March, 2022 at 10pm. 

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