Belfast Telegraph

Judge adjourns 'gruesome' killing case to clarify claim victim shouted out 'murder'

By John Cassidy

A senior judge has described the "gruesome" killing of a pensioner in his Co Antrim home last year as "sheer inhumanity".

Belfast Crown Court heard the "virtually naked" Eddie Girvan was stabbed in the chest and then cried out "murder, murder" before Margaret Henderson-McCarroll stuffed his mouth with kitchen roll, gagged him and bound his hands and feet to a chair.

However, Defence counsel John McCrudden QC disputed this, stating that instead of shouting out "murder, murder" the 67-year-old was in fact shouting out her name "Margaret, Margaret".

Henderson-McCarroll (31), formerly of a hostel in Verner Street, Belfast, pleaded guilty last month to his manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The mother-of-two admitted unlawfully killing the 67-year-old in his Station Road home in Greenisland while high on a drugs cocktail of heroin and crystal meth.

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.

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 told the court that the killing of Mr Girvan was only discovered by police who were carrying out a separate investigation into a hit and run incident involving his Hyundai near Custom House Square in Belfast city centre.

When police officers first went to his home on January 18, 2016, they got no response.

Mr Justice Treacy was told that in a separate incident, Henderson-McCarroll was arrested on foot over an unrelated bench warrant and while in police custody she was found to have in her possession a sat nav device, a gent's Zodiac watch, a pair of binoculars, a torch, a chain and two sets of car keys to Mr Girvan's Hyundai and Saab cars.

The court heard that Henderson-McCarroll told police she found the possessions and was trying sell them to buy drugs.

After examining the sat nav device, police discovered it showed up Mr Girvan's home address at Station Road in Greenisland.

Police went to Mr Girvan's home, gained access "and inside found Mr Girvan".

The prosecution counsel said: "He was virtually naked, bound and gagged, seated in a room on the ground floor."

The court heard Mr Girvan's hands were bound with three of his own neck ties, his feet were bound with two of his ties, his trousers and underpants were round his ankles and he was wearing a dressing gown which was lying open.

A post mortem examination revealed that Mr Girvan had been stabbed in the upper part of his chest with a 10cm incision which punctured his right lung, leading to internal bleeding.

During police interview, Henderson-McCarroll said she had stabbed him with a cake knife during an argument after he came at her with "a wee stick sword".

The prosecution said she told police she had "freaked out" because he "wouldn't stop squealing" and was shouting: "Murder, murder."

Mr McCreanor said Henderson-McCarroll told police she hadn't meant to kill Mr Girvan and that he would not have died had she not been "high on heroin and crystal meth".

But he said that an aggravating feature in the case was that the accused did not ring 999 and call for an ambulance to help Mr Girvan.

The court heard that the defendant has 100 convictions on her record, with a large number for violence.

Mr Justice Treacy remarked to the court: "This is quite a gruesome case."

The judge said that the issue around what Mr Girvan reportedly said needed to be clarified. He then adjourned the case until June 29.

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