Belfast Telegraph

'Crucifix killer' Karen Walsh given new date to appeal conviction, court hears

By Alan Erwin

A pharmacist jailed for battering her elderly neighbour to death with a crucifix has been given a new date for her legal bid to clear her name.

Karen Walsh's appeal against being convicted of murdering Maire Rankin will be heard in March next year, senior judges confirmed today.

Her lawyers are expected to focus on DNA evidence and forensic notes as part of their challenge to the guilty verdict.

Walsh, 48, is currently serving a minimum 20-year prison sentence for carrying out the deadly attack.

The tariff is one of the longest ever handed down to a woman in Northern Ireland.

Mrs Rankin, 81, was found dead at her Dublin Road home in Newry, Co Down on Christmas Day 2008.

The devout Catholic had suffered 15 broken ribs and been beaten with a crucifix given to her as a wedding gift.

Evidence of a sexual assault was also discovered.

Walsh, a mother of one, worked in Dublin but often stayed at a house she owned next door to the victim.

During her trial, the prosecution claimed she arrived at Mrs Rankin's home already drunk and with a bottle of vodka.

It was alleged that she then flew into a rage and attacked the pensioner after being chastised about her drinking and told to go home to her young son.

Despite being found guilty of murder Walsh has continued to protest her innocence.

A date for her legal challenge has already been put back twice.

But during an update in the Court of Appeal today it was confirmed that the two-day hearing will now get underway on March 4.

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