Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Shirley ‘in good form’ the day before she died

Shirley Finlay sat “talking to herself” on steps outside the home of a man accused of killing her, a court heard yesterday.

The 25-year-old, who was strangled, beaten and dumped in a Ballymena car park in September 2006 was seen on a number of different occasions at the steps to 5A Hill Street — a flat occupied by Henryk Gorski.

Gorski, a former meat plant worker, of Polish origin, denies killing Ms Finlay, who was |described in court as being “harmless and inoffensive.”

Day two of his murder trial at Antrim Crown Court yesterday heard how Ms Finlay had a history of talking to herself, was known to have drank alcohol alone and sometimes frequented areas where locals with drink problems congregated.

In the witness box yesterday Kerry McCafferty, who knew the victim for three months prior to her death, recalled seeing her sitting on the steps of the Hill Street flat about three times a week.

Miss McCafferty, who identified the doorway to two police officers investigating the brutal killing, said: “She would have been sitting talking to herself or mumbling. Drinking milk or pure orange.”

She added: “She (Shirley) would always have been by herself and mumbling to herself. Usually you would have seen her with a pint bottle of pure orange or milk.”

Defence barrister Stephen Fowler QC asked if the door to the Hill Street premises was opened or closed; to which she answered: “It was always closed.”

Another witness, Ashleigh Johnson, who was a friend of Miss Finlay’s for five years, said her habit of mumbling had developed over time.

“That only came later on in life. She hadn’t got that when she first came to Ballymena,” she told the court.

The pair had been close since Shirley’s arrival in Ballymena during 2000. On April 18, 2006, the day before Shirley was found dead, they had enjoyed a 10 minute catch up at Henry Street in the Harryville area and had made arrangements to see each other again.

Miss Johnson said Shirley had been in “good form” and had wanted to go for a birthday celebration.

“She asked if I would up to the town with her for a pint. I said I couldn’t go that day because I was moving house. She said it was her birthday that week. I said we would meet up in the Spinning Mill for her birthday drink, and lunch.

“She seemed to be in good form. She had not been talking to herself. She was laughing,” said Miss Johnson.

The murder trial is expected to last up to nine weeks because all proceedings are being translated into Polish.

At hearing.

Latest News

Latest Sport

Latest Showbiz