| 14.7°C Belfast

Margaret Henderson jailed for three years for killing pensioner Eddie Girvan


Margaret Henderson-McCarroll

Margaret Henderson-McCarroll

Margaret Henderson-McCarroll.

Margaret Henderson-McCarroll.

Eddie Girvan died after he was attacked by Margaret Henderson-McCarroll

Eddie Girvan died after he was attacked by Margaret Henderson-McCarroll

Photopress Belfast

Margaret Henderson-McCarroll

A mother-of-two was jailed on Monday for three years for what a senior judge described as the "horrific'' killing of pensioner Eddie Girvan in Co Antrim last year.

Margaret Henderson-McCarroll (31), formerly of Verner Street, Belfast, had previously pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of the 67-year-old retired plumber who was stabbed, gagged and bound at his Greenisland home on January 18, 2017.

Dressed in denim jeans, black jacket and white top and with her red hair now dyed blonde, Henderson-McCarroll acknowledged family and friends in the public gallery as she was brought into court in handcuffs by prison staff.

Passing sentence on Monday at Belfast Crown Court, Mr Justice Treacy said the defendant would serve a further three years on licence as part of the six-year determinant custodial sentence he was imposing.

He said that he agreed with two consultant forensic psychologists that Henderson-McCarroll did not meet the dangerous provisions and that she did not pose a "significant risk of serious harm to the public in the future''.

This was an horrific crime and the deceased must have suffered terribly. Judge Justice Treacy

The prosecution accepted her guilty plea to the manslaughter of the Mr Girvan on the grounds of "diminished responsibility''.

Her defence had argued that at the time of the killing Henderson-McCarroll was high on a cocktail of heroin and crystal drugs.

A defence QC had told a plea and sentence hearing in June this year that at the time of the manslaughter her life had descended into a "heroin hell'' following the cot death of her infant daughter.

Summarising the background to the case, Mr Justice Treacy told the court that Henderson-McCarroll had known Mr Girvan for a number of years and she received "money for sex with him''.

He went on: "Police received a report of a road traffic accident in Belfast on the morning of January 18, 2016, involving a Hyundai car which was registered to the deceased, Mr Girvan.

"To progress their inquires, police called at his home at about 8.45am to speak to him but got no answer. They returned to his home again at 3pm but there was still no sign of Mr Girvan.

"Separately, at around 10.45am on the same date in the Lisburn Road area, police arrested you (Henderson-McCarroll) over an unrelated matter.

"You were eventually taken to Musgrave police station. At the same a number of items were discovered in your possession which included a satellite navigation system and a key belonging to a Hyundai car. When police checked the sat nav system it showed the home address of 162 Station Road, which was Mr Girvan's home.''

The court heard that because police could not make contact with Mr Girvan, officers were concerned for his safety and went back to his house for a third time and forced entry.

There they found the dead body of Mr Girvan bound, gagged and seated in a room on the ground floor. Photographs taken at the time showed clearly where he was and the state he was in. Mr Justice Treacy

Mr Justice Treacy said that Mr Girvan had sustained two stab wounds to his body - one wound was to upper right chest area measuring 10 centimetres in depth which had "punctured his lung causing high bleeding into the lung'' and which alone "could have resulted in death''.

The second stab injury was to the lower right part of his chest, three-and-a-half centimetres in depth, which penetrated the skin and soft tissue but "caused no vital damage''.

"Neither stab would have required any great force. The deceased had a large wad of kitchen roll stuffed into his mouth and he had been gagged with a tie. This too, of itself, could have resulted in death.''

The judge said that during police interviews, Henderson-McCarroll spoke about her life, about her relationship with Mr Girvan which involved "sex for money''.

"You told police that you had been at the deceased's home on Saturday, January 16, you told police about the drink and drugs you had taken there, and how you had stayed over in Greenisland that weekend.

"On the morning of Monday, January 18, 2016, you told police there was an argument in relation to money you alleged that Mr Girvan owed you for sex.

"During the argument, you allege that you were pushed against the mantelpiece, that the deceased pulled out a stick sword that had been down the side of the chair, that you grabbed the end of it, that there was a struggle, that there was a knife at hand to cut cake, that you lifted it and poked him, to use your words, in the chest, and he fell on the chair.

"You said that you panicked, that Mr Girvan was shouting at you, and so you put a tie on his mouth to quieten him. You then left his house, took his Hyundai car, drove to Belfast, were involved in a hit and run and had taken more heroin before the journey to calm your nerves.''

Mr Justice Treacy said that Henderson-McCarroll had 100 previous criminal convictions which included offences of robbery, theft and assault.

In a number of these attacks, she had bitten, punched and head butted some of her victims who included children, elderly men, young women and adult men.

A consultant forensic psychiatrist, who had examined the defendant, said in a report to the court that she had an addiction history to opiates and stimulants which had led to a "chaotic life''.

"It is evident from her abuse of illicit drugs intensified following the death of her infant daughter which led to a subsequent significant deterioration in her mental health and social functioning,'' the report stated.

"She also exhibits traits of an emotionally unstable personality disorder due to the background of violence and sexual abuse at the hands of a number of male partners.''

The report's author added that the defendant should receive access in prison to addiction services for her drug and alcohol abuse which could help to reduce the risk of her lapsing back into "high risk behaviours such as prostitution, self harm and violence in the future''.

Mr Justice Treacy also handed down concurrent prison sentences ranging from one month to a year after Henderson-McCarroll pleaded guilty to charges of theft, attempted theft, aggravated vehicle taking, dangerous driving, driving whilst unfit through drink or drugs, no insurance, failing to report and failing to stop at an accident.

She was also banned from driving for one year and the judge said any conditions to her release licence would be attached at the appropriate time by the relevant authorities.

Belfast Telegraph