Family slams 'evil and manipulative' murderer
The family of Maire Rankin has branded her killer as "evil and dangerous".
They packed the public gallery in the courtroom to hear the outcome of the appeal yesterday.
Karen Walsh's accountant husband Richard Durkin sat directly in front of them in the gallery.
They heard Sir Declan Morgan describe the victim as an independent and modest woman who was proud of her appearance, devoutly religious and who rarely drank alcohol.
But her health was frail, taking medication for chest infections and needing to use a chair lift to get up and down the stairs.
She had been unwell in the days leading up to her death, but was starting to feel better by Christmas Eve. In a telephone conversation that night one daughter recalled her being bubbly and looking forward to seeing the family on Christmas Day.
Instead, Mrs Rankin's body was found, partially covered, in a bedroom in a state of disarray.
Rejecting Walsh's claim to having made the premises secure when she left hours earlier, Sir Declan pointed out there were no signs of subsequent forced entry.
"The DNA evidence linked the applicant to the attack upon the deceased and the telephone evidence between 7.31am and 7.37am was overwhelming evidence that the applicant was using the deceased's phone at that time," he said. Walsh, who appeared by prison video-link, gesticulated and started to say something as her appeal was thrown out, before falling silent once more.
A defence barrister said he would take instructions from her before confirming whether to proceed with a further appeal against the jail term imposed.
Outside court the victim's relatives expressed relief at the outcome.
One of her daughters, Brenda Rankin, said: "It's been a very difficult process for us over the past six-and-a-half years, it's taken an immense toll on the family."
She also hit out at Walsh for her continued attempts to overturn the murder conviction.
"There is a very evil, dangerous person who seems to have manipulated every aspect of the court system," Ms Rankin said.
"It seems that Karen Walsh has been pulling the strings of the legal system... and they have indulged her at every whim."
But praising Sir Declan's description of her mother, she added: "What the Lord Chief Justice brought back this morning was the sadness and the awful death she was subjected to.
"That's been completely ignored in the legal debate, but he talked about mummy and brought her back to the centre of the focus."