Belfast Telegraph

Crucifix killer Karen Walsh launches bid to clear name

By Alan Erwin

A pharmacist jailed for battering her elderly neighbour to death with a crucifix will begin a legal bid to clear her name next year.

Karen Walsh's appeal against being convicted of murdering Maire Rankin will get under way on March 4, senior judges confirmed.

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 murder. The tariff is one of the longest 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.

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