Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Man accused of drowning partner ‘is a devoted dad’

A man who allegedly murdered his partner in front of their daughter by drowning her in the bath, was a caring and devoted father, a social worker has told a court.

Linda Wisener, a social worker with the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, told Belfast Crown Court yesterday that murder accused William Mawhinney had a very “loving and affectionate” relationship with his two daughters, who he had sole custody of because of his partner’s problems with alcohol.

His partner Lorraine Mills (35) was discovered drowned in the bath at his Ballymena home on May 28, 1995. His daughter Kelly, now 22, alleged that she saw him drown her.

Mawhinney (51) was living at Staffa Road in Ballymena at the time of Ms Mills’ death. Although Ms Mills had moved into her own flat in the town she was often at Mawhinney’s house.

An earlier court hearing also heard that several years after Ms Mills’ death Mawhinney coldly confessed to his estranged English wife that he had drowned his first partner and later boasted that he had “committed the perfect murder”.

Yesterday Mawhinney, who has an address at Highfield Road, March, in Cambridgeshire, bowed his head and rubbed his face as Ms Wisener described how he had been a very committed father to his daughters.

The social worker said that before their mother’s death the children were on the child protection register because of her alcohol abuse problems. Mawhinney took over full custody of the children to ensure that they were not put into care.

“I felt he presented as a very caring and committed father to his two daughters,” Ms Wisener said.

She added that Mawhinney was keen that Ms Mills would have contact with their children.

Mawhinney has denied killing Ms Mills and recently told the court that he cannot understand how his daughter Kelly “witnessed anything that never took place.”

The case will resume on Monday when prosecution and defence barristers will make their final submissions to the court.

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