The judge who presided over their case described their crime as “the most grotesque killing that has occurred in my professional lifetime”. Which is quite some claim, but one which seems completely likely when you delve deeper into the strange, sad, sinister story of the women the tabloids dubbed the “Scissor Sisters”, and the man who fell victim to their sudden fury in 2005. Their names are Linda and Charlotte Mulhall, and they hail from Dublin, where they committed a murder that was somehow both messy and cunning, spontaneous and well-thought-out. Sounds paradoxical, but they pulled it off. But just what led two sisters – Linda, 30 and Charlotte, 21 – to savagely attack and dismember their mother’s partner?
Mum Kathleen had been in a relationship with a man called Farah Swaleh Noor, and by all accounts it was a turbulent union, with Noor allegedly subjecting her to physical violence. Kathleen’s daughter Linda, the older of the “Scissor Sisters”, also had a troubled personal life. A mother herself, she fell into an abusive relationship with a life-long criminal and thug called Wayne Kinsella, who had served time for killing a pensioner who’d been visiting his wife’s grave at the time. Kinsella had nothing to do with Linda’s own crime, but his very presence is indicative of the hugely troubled domestic world of the Mulhall family. (Kinsella, who’d allegedly beaten his own sister, would later be convicted of yet another killing, and was handed a life sentence.) And as for the younger “Scissor Sister”, Charlotte: she had been a drug user with a history of petty convictions.
Into this rocky home life had come Farah Swaleh Noor, their mum’s allegedly abusive partner, who had a pretty shady history himself. Arriving in Ireland in the mid-90s, he’d originally pretended to be a Somalian who’d escaped bloodshed in Mogadishu. In fact, he was from Kenya, and had invented his tragic backstory. Becoming the father to a child born in Ireland saved him from being deported, despite convictions for assault. His history suggested a casual contempt for women – a fact which would lead to his brutal killing.
It was an apparently sudden, improvised attack, but the sisters acted with an eerie kind of automatic cunning.
On that day in 2005, the family – Kathleen, Linda, Charlotte and Farah Swaleh Noor – had been out in Dublin, getting progressively drunker on vodka as they wandered the streets. Later on, ecstasy tablets came into play, and the buzzing bunch eventually made it back to Kathleen’s flat. It was here that an apparently benign, drunken day out turned into something from a horror film. Noor allegedly started touching Linda, the older sister, in a crudely sexual manner, whispering “dirty, dirty” things in her ear and refusing to take no for an answer – even when her mum (and his partner) Kathleen started yelling at him. It was at this point Kathleen snapped and said, “Please just kill him for me.” The dutiful daughters did just that. Charlotte struck first, slashing Noor with a Stanley knife, and then Linda attacked, repeatedly smacking a hammer into Noor’s head. Mum Kathleen watched the flurry of blows land on her lover, but didn’t participate in the murder itself. In a matter of moments, Noor was stabbed and beaten to death.
It was an apparently sudden, improvised attack, but the sisters acted with an eerie kind of automatic cunning, immediately taking the corpse into the bathroom to begin the grisly procedure of disposal. That meant cutting Noor up into pieces – even hacking off his penis as a pointed punishment for his sexual aggression. Then, having reduced Noor to pieces, the sisters coolly got rid of him, literally a bit at a time, taking several trips to the Royal Canal with his body parts in plastic bags. The head was given special treatment, being buried separately, then dug up, smashed up with a hammer and reburied. To this day, it has never been found.
The whole gruesome crime came to light in a fittingly gruesome way, when members of the public spotted Noor’s leg – still wearing a sock – floating in the canal. Divers soon found more body parts, and Noor was identified by a friend of his who recognized the t-shirt still clinging to his butchered torso. It was only a matter of time before the trail led to the sisters, and Linda eventually spilled the truth to the police.
Charlotte was handed a life sentence, her sister Linda was given 15 years, while their mum – who initially fled the country – came back and was given five years. Ever since then, the family have been notorious in Ireland, though some will have some sympathy for three women whose lives had been ugly and blighted for years leading up to an explosion of bloody violence. “I hate being called the Scissor Sister,” Charlotte later said. “It makes me out to be the monster.”