'beast' | 

Sister of killer Noel Long says she shed tears for victims and feared him all her life

‘I’ve been afraid of Noel Long since I was a child of six...’

Noel Long’s sister has told how she prays for the family of his victim, Nora Sheehan. Pic: Paddy Cummins

Nora was raped and killed by Long

The Sunday World confronting Long in Cork in 2012

The family of Nora Sheehan after Noel Long was convicted of her murder. Pic Collins Courts

Julieana Moore Watkins (sister) and Ellen Long (mother) of rapist Noel Long

Julianne Moore Watkins is fearful. Pic By Kevin Mc Nulty

Clodagh Meaney

THE sister of cold case killer Noel Long has said that she had feared her twisted brother “since the age of six” and admitted that she shed tears for the families of his victims.

Evil killer Long cried crocodile tears this week as he was sentenced to life behind bars for the brutal 1981 murder of vulnerable mum of three Nora Sheehan.

But the sympathies of his own family were not with him — instead they were with the deceased, her relatives, and his other victims who have been too afraid to seek justice themselves.

The 74-year-old Cork man’s younger sister, Julieanna Moore Watkins, told the Sunday World on Friday that her brother’s conviction brings justice to the Sheehan family and to other women he raped and sexually assaulted in the past.

“They are in my thoughts,” she said, “and I cried for them as I heard the verdict because now Nora Sheehan can finally rest in peace and her family can be proud that they got justice for their mam.

“I sincerely hope and pray that the sentence handed down brings some form of peace and consolation — after a lifetime of grief and loss, it’s finally over.”

Sending her love and compassion to Nora’s loved ones, Julieanna added: “Both families have suffered greatly, I have always wanted the opportunity to say to the Sheehan family that I am deeply, deeply sorry for their horrendous loss of a lovely, gentle mother.”

“I always prayed that she would be resting in peace.

“She did not deserve to meet the beast and rapist of Cork city. He only preyed on vulnerable women who were unable to defend themselves.

“To him, I say I hope you live the longest life possible so you can relive the days that you were tried and convicted of murder and lost your freedom for harming another defenceless woman.

“The conviction of Noel Long means justice for others too — for the other women that he attacked over the years, as he has done this to so many people.”

Julieanna went on to describe her own terrifying encounter with the violent thug when she was aged just six years old.

“I’ve been afraid of Noel Long since I was a child of six,” she recalled.

“I remember him coming to my bedroom and trying to assault me. I am 72 now and I have remained afraid of him all that time. I knew never to be alone with him… I knew he was evil then and I know he is evil now.”

The Sunday World can also reveal today that Long was under investigation for the attempted rape of a teenager in 1980 when he murdered Nora. And a year after the brutal killing, he raped again.

That victim was on holiday in the Cork area from England but was too afraid to testify against him, despite a visit from Garda Cold Case detectives before the recent murder trial.

We can also reveal that Long was a person of interest in the 1996 murder of Sophie Toscan Du Plantier at her home in west Cork. However, as the French woman was not sexually assaulted, he did not become a suspect.

According to well-placed sources, the sexual predator was a suspect in a number of unsolved rapes in the Cork area.

With 31 previous convictions, Long has served time in prison before. His most recent stint was in 2014 after a jury found him guilty of assault causing harm after a run-in with a then 38-year-old man.

The injured party was driving his vehicle down past Long’s house when he soaked him with water from a hose before attacking him with an iron bar in the unprovoked incident.

At the time, Justice Seán Ó Donnabháin commented on Long’s violent and volatile nature, saying: “It is somewhat extraordinary to have a 65-year-old man before the court for assault. Normally, assault is the province of the young, hot-blooded, hot-tempered and the foolish; it is unusual to have a 65-year-old man in a situation where he blatantly and without provocation struck another man on the head with an iron bar, and there is not a scintilla of remorse.

“There is a question of a lad having a short fuse and then your lad who doesn’t have any fuse at all,” he added.

The sex monster was an avid motorbiker and was regularly seen riding his Harley-Davidson around Cork. He was also a keen deep sea diver and a fitness fanatic. He spent a number of years in his early 20s in the Royal Irish Rangers as part of the British Army, during which time he racked up four convictions including for burglary, wilful damage, and stealing.

Long was 32 when Nora Sheehan vanished on June 6, 1981, after she attended the emergency department in South Infirmary Hospital in Cork. The 54-year-old had been bitten after she tried to separate two dogs fighting outside her home.

Ms Sheehan, who has been described as ‘vulnerable’ and ‘eccentric’, often waved down cars in the streets, talking to anyone she could about her suspicions of bodies being kept in car boots, and conspiracies about the local psychiatric hospital where she used to work.

The trial at the Central Criminal Court heard how the mother of three sons was last seen just after 4am on the morning of June 7, 1981. Her body was discovered days later, on June 12, at Shippool Woods in Innishannon, Co. Cork.

Nora’s remains were dumped in undergrowth, naked, except for the blue floral dress she wore that night which was pulled up over her face, and her tights which were hanging off one foot.

Local brute Noel Long was pulled over days later by gardai investigating a post-office robbery, and knowing what a depraved sex offender he was, they suspected his involvement in Nora’s murder.

Officers eventually matched debris from Noel’s blue Opel Kadett to fibres and paint on Nora’s clothing and under her fingernails.

However, it wasn’t until a DNA breakthrough in 2022 — when semen swabbed from Nora was matched to Noel Long — that he was re-arrested.

In June 2022, he was charged with the murder of Nora Sheehan and was subsequently found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

In their victim impact statement, the family of Nora Sheehan remembered their mother as a “much-loved wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend”.

They added that she was “kind, compassionate and opinionated,” as well as a lover of children and animals.

Her family also said that she was “a modern woman and a bit ahead of her time” as she earned her own money at a hospital, bringing her “country charm into the lives of the vulnerable patients”.

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