Ex-partner charged with murder after death of Joleen Corr
A Belfast man who had been accused of attacking his former partner so savagely she was left in a vegetative state has now been formally charged with her murder.
Michael O'Connor was not at Downpatrick Crown Court to hear Judge Piers Grant rule a charge of murder should be added to his indictment in the wake of the "tragic death" of Joleen Corr.
Judge Grant said Ms Corr's death meant there had been "material changes" to the prosecution case against O'Connor, adding that: "I'm satisfied that the prosecution have demonstrated there are exceptional circumstances and that the amended charges be put to the defendant."
Since allegedly attacking the mother-of-one in November 2016, O'Connor (33) has been in custody charged with attempted murder and causing the 27-year-old beautician grievous bodily harm with intent.
Ms Corr sustained horrific brain injuries and was left in a coma after being attacked in a house in Thomas Russell Park in Downpatrick.
She was beaten so badly she was barely recognisable and spent six months in hospital before being transferred home. Following a court ruling last year, doctors withdrew treatment and Ms Corr died on April 26.
O'Connor, originally from Westrock Grove in Belfast but whose address is given as Maghaberry prison, is understood to be Ms Corr's ex-partner.
Yesterday's ruling comes after prosecuting QC David McDowell applied for the murder charge to be added to the indictment by way of a 'voluntary bill'.
This means that the case and charges go directly to the Crown Court instead of first going to the magistrates court.
For murder to be added to O'Connor's bill of indictment, prosecutors had to satisfy the judge there is sufficient evidence for the new charge.
Adjourning the case to next Friday for arraignment, Judge Grant ordered O'Connor to be produced to court from prison.
"This case has been delayed for a number of tragic reasons. It now needs to be moved on," the judge added.