Belfast Telegraph

Girl ‘asked police for years to treat mum’s death as murder’

The jury hearing the trial of a man accused of murdering his wife in a bath 15 years ago have been told that the couple’s daughter had constantly tried to alert police to the alleged killing.

William Mawhinney (51) denies murdering his 35-year-old wife Lorraine Mills, who was found dead in the bath of their Staffa Drive home in Ballymena, Co Antrim, on May 28, 1995.

The Belfast Crown Court trial heard how the deceased was an alcoholic whose blood alcohol reading was seven times over the driving limit at the time of her death.

A central witness in the trial is the couple's daughter, Kelly Keeley, who was only six at the time.

She claims to have witnessed her father kill her mother by hitting her in the bath.

Prosecuting barrister David Russell told the court yesterday that while there are inconsistencies in Ms Keeley's evidence, there is a constant theme throughout.

Since she was a little girl, he said, “she has constantly tried to bring the matter to the attention of the authorities”.

He added: “What she is saying is that her father was responsible for the death of her mother.”

The prosecution also summed up the evidence given by Mr Mawhinney's second wife, Gwen Mawhinney, who alleges he confessed to the murder in 2002. Mr Russell further pointed to the pathology report which indicated bruising consistent with “the forceful application of the grip of the hand to the neck”.

The prosecuting barrister urged the jury to look at the totality of the evidence and find Mr Mawhinney guilty.

However, defence counsel Patrick Lyttle QC dismissed the prosecution case as “entirely misconceived”.

He said: “The question is do you believe the evidence of Kelly Keeley or Gwen Mawhinney beyond reasonable doubt?

“Kelly's evidence in this case should be utterly discounted — it is without foundation.”

Mr Lyttle argued that the only truthful explanation of events was given by Miss Keeley the day after her mother's death — when she told police she found her mother snoring in the bath and some minutes later discovered her mother's face and head had fallen into the water.

The defence QC argued that this was consistent with the fact that three prosecution witnesses had found the top of the dead woman's hair to be dry.

The jury is expected to be sent out to consider a verdict today.

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