Belfast Telegraph

Matthew Goddard's widow fears for her own safety three years on

Maureen Goddard at her home in east Belfast
Maureen Goddard at her home in east Belfast
Maureen with Matthew on their wedding day
Maureen Goddard with her brother Raymond
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

The heartbroken widow of Matthew Goddard has revealed she still fears for her safety even though her husband's killers are behind bars.

Maureen Goddard (46) was speaking after James Turner, who admitted the "frenzied" murder, had his prison sentence reduced by two years by the Court of Appeal.

Last year brothers James (31) and William Turner (38) were convicted of killing Mr Goddard (41) in 2014 and were each sentenced to a minimum of 17 years in jail.

Mr Goddard's body was found at his Chobham Street home on Christmas Eve following a brutal assault during which a guitar was smashed over his head with such ferocity that it splintered into pieces.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph after senior judges ruled to cut James Turner's tariff period to 15 years, Maureen said she has endured a litany of intimidation and threats since she lost her beloved Matt.

"In search of justice for my husband I feel as if I have opened a Pandora's box of evil, racist, hateful intimidation," she said.

"Since those two people were arrested there has been a campaign of verbal and physical abuse against me and things have been getting worse.

"There has also been an online campaign on social media against myself and my children. The situation has escalated so much that people connected to the defendants have even contacted my tennis club and Cruse Bereavement."

She added: "I've been to the police seven times since January and at then minute I have seven crime reference reports.

"Every two months, when I try to go to the shopping centre, I bump into people who intimidate me and then I'm forced to go home and call the police. That's no way to live."

The Zimbabwe-born mother-of-two said that as a result of the racist abuse and intimidation since being widowed in the most horrific of circumstances she has been issued with a police panic alarm, which she now carries everywhere.

"Crime prevention officers have also given me five alarms that I have been instructed to put on the doors and windows of the house at night before I go to bed," Maureen said.

Mr Goddard was brutally beaten with fists, feet and an electric guitar before his assailants took turns to stamp on his head throughout a savage 10-minute attack, during which he was made to crawl on all fours.

It happened shortly after 11pm on December 23, 2014, and he died in the early hours of Christmas Eve.

His lifeless body was discovered at the bottom of the stairs in his home at 9pm on December 24 by a friend who had called in to collect presents.

Maureen, a former Post Office worker, said the brutal, unforgiving nature of Matthew's death haunts her every single day and she said she believes the punishment does not fit the crime.

"The 17-year sentence handed down to the Turner brothers wasn't tough enough in the first place," she said.

"I feel let down by the justice system because they should be taking responsibility for what they did to Matt.

"For the court to rule in their favour is wrong on so many levels, considering how brutal Matt's murder was.

"They showed no compassion. They have never shown any remorse. They still haven't apologised.

"An apology would mean a lot to me and my family. But, to me, they are not sorry." She added: "I've been very anxious in the run up to the hearing. I was worried that both their sentences would be cut. These people are not only a danger to me and my family, they are a danger to society."

Maureen said the end of the process was also "a relief" for her son Tinashe (28), an engineer who was with her in court yesterday, and daughter Zoe (19), who is a business management student at university in England.

She also revealed that co-accused Christian Walker (27) - who was present at the murder but didn't participate and was given an 18-month jail sentence, suspended for two years - has since apologised to her through his solicitor.

But Maureen - whose brother Raymond (49), a retired police officer, flew in from Zimbabwe to support her at the hearing - said that she still hopes to derive some closure after yesterday's disappointing ruling.

"All I ever wanted was for Matt to get justice and for him to finally rest in peace," she said.

"It is coming up to his third anniversary and it has been a hard fight for all the family.

"I'm praying he is now at peace. I now feel I have done everything I can and I hope, wherever he is, he is proud of me because I've never stopped loving him or fighting for him and I'll always love him until the day I die."

Belfast Telegraph


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