Belfast Telegraph

Crucifix murder appeal has no merit, judges told

By Alan Erwin

The case against a pharmacist jailed for battering her elderly neighbour to death with a crucifix was "overwhelming", the Court of Appeal has heard.

Senior judges were told "compelling" evidence of Karen Walsh's guilt has left her challenge to the guilty verdict without any merit.

Walsh (48) is seeking to overturn her conviction for murdering Maire Rankin in the early hours of Christmas Day 2008.

The 81-year-old was found dead in the bedroom of her Dublin Road home in Newry, Co Down.

Mrs Rankin, a devout Catholic, had suffered up to 15 broken ribs and been beaten with a crucifix.

Evidence of a sexual assault - thought to have been carried out to cover the killer's tracks - was also discovered.

Walsh is currently serving a minimum 20-year prison sentence for carrying out the attack.

She had worked in Dublin but often stayed at a house she owned next door to the victim.

During her trial, the prosecution claimed she arrived at Mrs Rankin's home already drunk and with a bottle of vodka.

It was alleged that the mother-of-one then flew into a rage and attacked the pensioner after being chastised about her drinking and told to go home to her young son.

Despite being found guilty of murder, Walsh continues to protest her innocence.

Her legal team claim the trial judge failed to properly direct the jury on key areas about the time of death, differences in DNA samples, issues around Walsh's level of intoxication and on the intentions of whoever was responsible.

On day two of the appeal hearing Frank O'Donoghue QC, for Walsh, emphasised the case being made by his client.

"She is entirely innocent of touching Mrs Rankin in any way," he told the court.

A further ground of appeal centred on how lies attributed to Walsh were handled at trial.

However, Liam McCollum QC, for the prosecution, said: "The prosecution position is that there's absolutely no merit in any of the arguments presented by the appellant." The appeal continues.

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