Kathleen Chada has been through unspeakable tragedy. On July 29th 2013, her husband Sanjeev Chada strangled the couples’ two sons, Eoghan (10) and Ruairí (5) and attempted to take his own life by crashing his car. He survived the impact and is serving two concurrent life sentences. Kathleen joined Sean O’Rourke to talk about her attempts to deal with the unthinkable and her lobbying work to reform sentencing laws.
For Kathleen, her husband’s actions were made even more unbearable by the fact that they seemingly came out of the blue.
“It was the last thing I thought he would ever, ever do. He had a good standing in the community… He was very involved in the community centre with the local GAA, he trained some of the juveniles… A complete shock.”
About two weeks before the boys’ murder, Kathleen discovered to her horror that Sanjeev had embezzled €60,000 from the community to fund a gambling problem that also came as a huge shock.
“It was stocks and shares that he was trading. It wasn’t that he was turning up in a bookies every other week or anything like that, this was in his mind a legitimate almost occupation of sorts. I suppose there was nothing to indicate that that was a problem and our own personal finances weren’t impacted so I didn’t see anything.”
Kathleen says she reasons in her own mind that shame drove her husband to do what he did. “I don’t doubt that he loved them but his actions wouldn’t show that,” she said. After the boys’ deaths, Kathleen discovered a chilling email.
“Both the boys had an email account from when they were born. I was reading through Eoghan’s and in it there was an email which was effectively a suicide note in which he had planned to take the four of us and that would have been written about a year and a half before he took the boys… How do you hide something like that? As I said, I lived with him, I slept next to him every night and these were the thoughts that were going through his mind.”
Kathleen said that these secrets thoughts were being mulled over by her husband for so long that ultimately, he acted on them.
Four years on, Kathleen must go on with what is left of her life. “There are still unbearable times,” she says. “I don’t consider myself to be suicidal but there are many times when I just wish I wasn’t here.”
To help focus her energies, Kathleen has set up SAVE, which stands for Sentencing and Victims Equality, together with five families whose lives were also ripped apart by murder.
“What we want is some changes to sentencing. I know for me personally, if the judge had been in a position to say, “to serve a minimum of,” so two life sentences, running concurrently, but he must serve a minimum of, it would just make life a little bit easier right now because I know that after 10 years… he can apply for parole. I don’t know whether he will or not… which means that in another 5 years, I have to get my head around the possibility… From the very beginning, I felt that there was a possibility that he will turn up and I’ll meet him at the grave… Not all life sentences are served in prisons. I’ve got a life sentence and I can’t get early release… Want we want is more account of victims and families of victims.”
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