Belfast Telegraph

Former policeman on murder charge

By Pauline Reynolds

A former police inspector has been charged with the murder of a south Belfast pensioner 20 years ago.

Annabella Symington, 80, a childless widow, was found strangled at her home in Willesden Park on Halloween night in 1989.

On Friday, Kenneth McConnell (58), of Prospect Downs in Carrickfergus, appeared before Belfast Magistrates Court accused of her killing.

The former police officer was arrested the previous Tuesday at the University of Ulster campus at Jordanstown where he worked as a security guard.

He had been medically discharged from the RUC in 1990.

Appearing before District Judge Fiona Bagnall, McConnell appeared calm as he mouthed the words “I love you” and waved to his wife who was sitting in the public gallery.

He spoke only to confirm that he understood the charges being put to him.

Defence barrister Richard McConkey told the court there was a “significant psychiatric background” in respect of his client.

And he revealed that police had found a suicide note at his home in 2007.

A PSNI detective inspector confirmed that she could connect McConnell to the charge.

She said she was not aware of the defendant’s psychiatric background and no application for bail was made.

For two decades mystery has surrounded Mrs Symington’s murder which sent shock waves across Northern Ireland.

Her body was discovered at her home in the affluent Stranmillis area by a neighbour. She had been living alone.

Part of her cardigan was stuffed into her mouth and she had cuts and bruises to her head.

McConnell was remanded in custody and is due in court again via videolink on February 27.

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