Belfast Telegraph

Eddie Girvan killing: Life of woman who admitted manslaughter descended into 'heroin hell' after daughter's death

By John Cassidy

A court heard on Monday that the life of a woman who killed Eddie Girvan in his Co Antrim had descended into a "heroin hell'' following the cot death of her infant daughter.

The remarks were made by defence QC John McCrudden during a sentencing hearing at Belfast Crown Court in the case of Margaret Henderson-McCarroll.

The 31-year-old, formerly of a hostel in Verner Street, Belfast, had pleaded guilty last month to Mr Girvan's manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The mother-of-three admitted unlawfully killing the 67-year-old in his Station Road home in Greenisland in January 2016 by stabbing him in the chest with a cake knife while high on a cocktail of heroin and crystal meth drugs.

She further admitted eight other charges arising out of the killing including theft, attempted theft, aggravated vehicle taking causing damage, dangerous driving, driving when unfit through drink or drugs, driving without insurance, failing to stop and failing to report an accident.

At a hearing ten days ago, prosecution counsel Charles McCreanor QC told Mr Justice Treacy that Mr Girvan and Henderson-McCarroll had been known to each other for some years.

"She would come and stay with the deceased at his home and he would pay her for sexual relations,'' said the prosecution counsel.

He also told the court that Mr Girvan had cried out "murder, murder'' before Henderson-McCarroll had put kitchen roll in his mouth to stop him crying out further and bound his hands and feet with neck ties.

This was disputed by her defence team, who said that Mr Girvan had in fact been calling out her name.

Mr McCreanor told Mr Justice Treacy on Monday that following a re-examination of the transcripts of her taped police interviews "Mr Girvan was clearly saying 'Margaret, Margaret' and not 'murder, murder'."

John McCrudden QC for Henderson-McCarroll said: "I am grateful for the prosecution for having made that conclusion after listening to the tapes.

"It is clear from the transcripts that he was going 'Margaret, Margaret' and she was heard crying on the tape. I hope that will be accurately reported by the press.''

He told the judge that at the time of the killing, the defendant had an addiction to opiates and that she and another inmate at Hydebank Wood prison in south Belfast were currently in the process of mounting a judicial review against the Northern Ireland Prison Service to receive "appropriate care by way of opiate substitute therapy medication'' which was not currently available in the jail.

He said that in 2012, Henderson-McCarroll had been clean of drugs while pregnant and remained clean from drugs following the birth of her daughter Lily Rose.

However, Mr McCrudden said that six weeks after her birth, Lily Rose had died as a result of a cot death which he said had a "catastrophic'' effect on the life of Henderson-McCarroll.

"She thought that the birth of her daughter would be a fresh start for her but her life fell apart following the death of Lily Rose and she started to inject herion.

"Her life descended in a heroin hell, buying drugs from these drugs gangs operating in south Belfast who were well known to police.''

The defence QC added that Henderson-McCarroll "defended herself'' when Mr Girvan came at her with a stick sword during a row, saying the murder was not "pre-planned or pre-meditated''.

Mr Justice Treacy remarked: "I have never seen a case like this where an individual person who has been gagged, where three ties were used to bind his hands and at least one tie used to tie his feet.

"He has been bound and gagged in three different areas. There must have been a fair degree of preparation on her part.''

At this point, the defendant shouted out from the dock: "The place was a mess. There was stuff lying everywhere.

"You have already made your mind up about me fella. If you let me in the witness box I will tell you all what happened.''

The judge told her defence QC: "This is a difficult and complex case and she should be rest assured that this court has not made up its mind up despite what she says. Nothing could be further from the truth.''

Mr Justice Treacy said that what he would not understand was "why did she not ring the police or ring the hospital? How do you explain that?''

Mr McCrudden said she "didn't really know how badly injured he was as there was not a lot of blood'' and added that she then "left the house in a blind panic''.

He described the relationship between Mr Girvan and the defendant as "symbiotic'' in which Mr Girvan paid her for sex and she was "sleeping with Mr Girvan'' to stop her carrying out street robberies in Belfast to get money to feed her heroin addiction.

Mr Justice Treacy said he agreed with the prosecution application to receive a supplementary report from a doctor to allow him to be "fully aware of her substantial background and that she has offences of serious violence that were associated with these street robberies.''

The doctor had compiled a report for the hearing saying he did not believed she posed a danger to the public on his release.

The court previously heard that Henderson-McCarroll had a record of 100 criminal convictions, including offences for assault during street robberies. In one attack, a man suffered a fracture to his leg.

The judge said he was adjourning the case until this Friday, June 30, to allow the doctor to review her criminal record and state whether or not this would change his view on the danger she posed to the public in the future.

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