Mother of murdered Cork three-year-old appeals to bring daughter home 3 weeks ago

Mother of murdered Cork three-year-old appeals to bring daughter home

"I did not realise just how sinister Martin's plan was."

The mother of a murdered three-year-old Cork girl has appealed to have her daughter's remains exhumed to bring her back to the US.

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Rebecca Saunders' daughter Clarissa was drowned by her father, Martin McCarthy, in 2013. Saunders had been travelling to Bantry to initiate divorce proceedings at the time.

The American woman had moved to west Cork in 2004 for a study abroad programme. She met and married McCarthy, and they later welcomed their daughter.

Saunders has said that at the time she thought she wanted Clarissa to be buried with her father, but she is now appealing to have her remains exhumed to bring her to the US, where she now lives.

"I just remember always wanting to be by her side and wanting to crawl into that coffin with her," she told RTÉ's Claire Byrne Show last night.

"I could not believe what was in front of my eyes and what had just happened and how fast everything was going."

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Saunders said that she "agreed" to have her daughter buried alongside her father. She said that at the time, she "could not handle the thought" of having Clarissa cremated.

"It was brought up by somebody else, I did not think of it myself," she said. "I did not want to think of how I would bury my own daughter, but I thought to myself at the time that I could not handle the thought of having my daughter cremated that time.

"If she had a choice, if she could make a choice in this decision whether she was going to be by herself or whether she wanted to be with somebody, I just felt like she would not want to be alone [...] even though he did what he did, as she would still love him."

After drowning his daughter, McCarthy took his own life. An inquest later showed that the farmer had planned the killings ahead of time. The last line of a note left read: "You will never forget this day."

"I did not realise just how sinister Martin's plan was and how much in advance he planned out what he carried out that night," said Saunders.

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"Burying them together was a huge mistake. I feel like I essentially abandoned her because I'm not there anymore and the grave where she's buried and how she's buried and who she's buried with just gives me a great deal of stress."

She added: "I would sleep better. I would be able to function better if I was able to take her home with me."