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Drink ‘may have led to mum’s bath drowning’

A mother-of-two allegedly murdered 15 years ago was so drunk she could have simply drowned in her own bath, a court has heard.

The finding was made by Northern Ireland's state pathologist, who carried out the post-mortem on Ballymena woman Lorraine Elizabeth Mills in May 1995.

Her former partner, William Mawhinney, now aged 51, denies drowning her in front of their eldest daughter in their Staffa Drive home, and years later boasting to his new wife that he had “got away with” murder.

Yesterday, the state pathologist, Professor Jack Crane reported that Ms Mills, who was 35, died from freshwater drowning and was “heavily intoxicated” at the time of her death.

He concluded that it was “quite conceivable she had lost consciousness whilst in the bath, resulting in accidental submergence and drowning”.

Prof Crane agreed with defence QC Patrick Lyttle that Ms Mills “either falls asleep or goes into a coma ... and slips down into the bath”.

Prof Crane also accepted that many of the injuries he found to the back and side of Ms Mills’ head — including a “fine hair-line fracture” — could have been caused by Ms Mills having convulsions in the bath.

Belfast Telegraph