Belfast Telegraph

Accused lay on Maire Rankin's bed drinking

By Deborah McAleese

The alleged killer of a Newry grandmother lay on the frail woman’s bed drinking vodka straight from a bottle in the early hours of Christmas morning as her two-year-old son slept next door, she told a court.

Taking the stand in her own defence at Belfast Crown Court, Karen Walsh broke down as a prosecution barrister told her that her alleged victim, 81-year-old Maire Rankin, believed that Christmas was for family and that Walsh should have been at home with her son rather than in her house drinking.

Walsh (45) told the jury that she is “totally innocent” of the murder of Mrs Rankin, whose badly beaten body was discovered naked in the bedroom of her Newry home on Christmas Day 2008.

“I have done nothing. I was very nice to that woman. I have all along told the truth about this. I could not have been nicer to Mrs Rankin,” Walsh told the jury.

The mother-of-one, who worked as a pharmacist in Dublin at the time of the murder, said she left her young son at home with her husband and called into Mrs Rankin’s house at around 11.30pm on Christmas Eve with a bottle of vodka.

While there, she said she drank vodka straight from the bottle as Mrs Rankin used a nebuliser to try and help her breathing.

“I know it sounds horrendous. But it was Christmas,” said Walsh.

Her lawyer Peter Irvine asked Walsh if, at any stage, she had punched or struck Mrs Rankin, or if there had been an argument.

Walsh replied: “Absolutely not. I could not have been any nicer to Mrs Rankin.”

She added: “I have no idea what happened to Mrs Rankin. I just know she was perfect when I left her.”

The court was also told that following her arrest on suspicion of murder, Walsh refused to answer any police questions.

During the interviews her solicitor read a statement that said: “I Karen Walsh absolutely deny any involvement in the assault on Maire Rankin.

“At all times when in her presence my actions were completely friendly.”

The court was told that Walsh had refused to answer the police questions on advice from her solicitor.

At hearing.

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