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Heroin addict admits killing pensioner Eddie Girvan in row over money for sex

By Michael Donnelly

A 31-year-old heroin addict has admitted unlawfully killing a Co Antrim pensioner.

Margaret Henderson-McCarroll's guilty plea to the manslaughter of Eddie Girvan came moments before her trial for his murder was due to start. The mother-of-two is now awaiting sentencing.

Read More: Eddie Girvan a decent man 'who was maybe too trusting'

Mr Girvan's body was discovered tied up inside his home on Station Road in Greenisland on January 18 last year.

He was found with stab wounds to his chest, and his death sparked shock and horror in the community.

Yesterday morning, Henderson-McCarroll's defence barrister, John McCrudden, asked trial judge Mr Justice Treacy for the defendant to be re-arraigned before Belfast Crown Court.

His client then admitted in front of a jury of six women and five men that she was "not guilty of murder, but guilty (of) manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility".

Following the development, Charles MacCreanor QC, for the Crown, said: "The prosecution accept those pleas."

Mr Justice Treacy then remanded Henderson-McCarroll - who wore jeans with a blue checked shirt over a white T-shirt and had her short hair dyed red - back into custody while pre-sentence reports are compiled ahead of her sentencing next month.

No details surrounding the horrific death were given during the hearing.

However, in a bail application last November, a Belfast court heard claims that retired plumber turned antiques collector Mr Girvan was killed in an argument over money for sex.

Following her arrest, Henderson-McCarroll, who has close to 100 previous convictions and a history of drug addiction, made admissions to police.

Belfast Crown Court was told the victim paid her to have sex with him, that she spent the weekend in his house and that on the morning he died they had a row over money.

It also emerged that police found Mr Girvan - his hands and ankles bound together with neckties - with kitchen paper stuffed in his mouth, which resulted in his tongue blocking his airway.

He had also several stab wounds, including a serious injury to his chest that resulted in internal bleeding.

The defendant told police that during the row Mr Girvan pushed her and struck out at her with a sword and that she "poked him in the stomach".

Henderson-McCarroll also made the case that she gagged him because she did not wants the neighbours to hear.

She denied murdering him, claiming she lost control while acting in self-defence.

The earlier hearing was told that she was arrested in south Belfast while on her way to allegedly see a drug dealer after allegedly selling a gold chain belonging to Mr Girvan for £60 at a Cash Converters.

In addition to the manslaughter charge, Henderson-McCarroll, who was living at the Ormeau Centre, in Verner Street in the Markets area of south Belfast but whose address on court papers was given as Hydebank Young Offenders' Centre, pleaded guilty to a total of eight other charges.

They included attempting to steal £20 from the pensioner, stealing his Zodiac watch, a Praktica digital camera, a gold chain, a Garmin SatNav device, binoculars and a bunch of his keys.

The defendant also pleaded guilty to a series of motoring offences that same day, ranging from taking Mr Girvan's Hyundai Sonata car, driving it while unfit through drugs or drink and with no insurance, crashing it and failing to stop or report the accident.

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