Killer Karen Walsh has lodged an appeal against her conviction for the murder of an elderly grandmother, it can be revealed.
Last month the pharmacist was told she must serve a minimum of 20 years in prison for the murder of her Newry neighbour Maire Rankin (81) on Christmas morning three years ago.
The sentence handed down to Walsh is one of the longest minimum jail terms for a female killer in Northern Ireland.
Walsh, a married mother-of-one, has now lodged an appeal against both her conviction and sentence. The full grounds of her appeal, lodged late last week, are not yet known.
But the prospect of an appeal was raised at her trial where she protested her innocence, even as the unanimous jury verdict was handed down.
Walsh, who is in receipt of free legal aid, changed her legal team on four occasions for her defence and it is understood she may have instructed a new legal team for her appeal.
The murder of Mrs Rankin, a widowed mother-of-eight, was one of the most gruesome in Northern Ireland in recent years.
The jury had heard that Walsh, who drank a litre bottle of vodka in Mrs Rankin's house, physically and sexually assaulted the pensioner with a crucifix that had been hanging on the wall.
There was a mark of the crown of thorns from the cross, which had been bought as a wedding present, on Mrs Rankin's chin.
Walsh was told last month she must serve at least 20 years in prison before being considered for parole. Sentencing her, Mr Justice Hart said she had inflicted a brutal and sustained assault on a frail and vulnerable pensioner. Maire Rankin was found in her house in Newry on Christmas Day in 2008. She had been beaten with a crucifix and sexually assaulted.