A Dublin man has been jailed for life for what the trial judge called the most calculating and callous killing he had ever encountered.

In the Central Criminal Court yesterday, Colin Whelan pleaded guilty to the murder of his wife four years ago.

Whelan, 34, of Clonard Street in Balbriggan, strangled his wife of six months with a cord from a dressing gown and then tried to pretend she had fallen down the stairs.

Today Mary Whelan's brother, David, turned to Colin Whelan in the dock and said to him that he would never ever forgive him.

Whelan had been consulting internet search sites in relation to strangulation and asphyxiation even before the couple had married in September 2000.

The couple had also taken out an insurance policy guaranteeing €400,000 to the surviving spouse in the event of death within ten years.

This policy was described as inappropriate for the couple by a financial expert.

In a statement read to the court on his behalf, Whelan apologised to his wife's family.

He said what he had done to Mary was abhorrent in the eyes of any Christian and in his own eyes.

Whelan was due to go on trial in 2003, but fled the country while out on bail.

He was later extradited from Spain and yesterday admitted killing his 27-year-old wife at their home in Balbriggan in March 2001.

After Whelan's guilty plea yesterday, her family issued a short statement.

They said that Mary was robbed from them and that the hurt would stay with them forever.

They said they were relieved that Whelan had finally admitted his guilt, and they described the last four years as hell on earth hoping and waiting for justice to be done.