Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Sister in murder court drama

THE sister of alleged murder victim Caroline Crossan broke down in tears as she recalled their last moments together at Londonderry Crown Court.

THE sister of alleged murder victim Caroline Crossan broke down in tears as she recalled their last moments together at Londonderry Crown Court.

Kathy McGrelis wept as she told how she had intended to stay with her sister on the night before her death but changed her plans at the last minute.

She later fled the court room in tears along with her parents as emergency crews described in detail her sister's horrific injuries.

The distressing scenes came on the third day of the trial of John Crossan who is charged with murdering his 28 year- old wife at their Clonliffe Park home.

The mother of three died several days after being admitted to Altnagelvin Hospital in October 1997 with multiple injuries.

The accused dressed in a grey suit and flanked by two prison officers showed no emotion yesterday as a neighbour and two fire officers told how they battled to save the young mother.

Sub officer David Scanlon described how Mrs Crossan squeezed his hand while he struggled to clear her airway.

He said the victim was covered in blood from her head to her waist and her skin was pink and peeling from scald wounds.

The jury of seven men and five women also heard graphic details of injuries to the back of Mrs Crossan's skull.

And it was this point that the victims family left the court room.

Earlier Assistant Divisional Officer William Lynch, who was the first fire fighter on the scene, described how he found the accused 'cradling' his wife's body in the hallway.

He added that when questioned about what had happened Crossan replied; 'I had been sleeping in the living room when I heard my wife squealing.'The fire chief added that the accused went on to say that his wife had been making chips before 'muttering something about a struggle.'Under cross examination from Defence counsel Arthur Harvey QC Mr Lynch said burn marks on the kitchen unit indicated that there had been a small fire but he was unable to say when it had occured.

He also revealed that a smoke alarm in the house was found not to be working.

Earlier in the day Kathy McGrelis denied under cross examination that she had been asked to change her evidence by the prosecution.

She dismissed defence claims that she had changed her testimony about who had received a hair cut at her sister's home on the night before the alleged murder.

According to Mr Harvey, the teenager's testimony yesterday that only the boys had their hair cut was at variance with her statement to police.

Outlining their case on Tuesday the Prosecution claimed that hair strands from the victim found in the house was evidence that an assault had taken place.

Ms McGrelis's former boyfriend, Daniel Saunders, also denied that he had changed his evidence about who had received a hair cut.

The court also heard how the Crossan's 10- year-old daughter Caoimhe had raised the alarm on the night of the alleged murder.

Neighbour John McGeehin described how the youngster came running up their garden carrying her younger brother.

He said she was shouting; 'There is a fire in the house, my mother split her head and there is blood everywhere.'Mr McGeehin then raced to the scene with his father Charles and administered first aid until the emergency services arrived.

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