Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland woman to be sentenced over preventing burial of corpse

Angela Irwin
Angela Irwin

By Paul Higgins

A woman who admitted preventing the lawful burial of her partner will be sentenced next month, a judge has ordered.

At Antrim Crown Court last week, 54-year-old Angela Irwin entered guilty pleas to preventing the lawful burial of a corpse on a date between November 13 and 22 last year and to fraud by false representation.

She denied, however, a third charge accusing her of forging a transfer of energy provider agreement and on Monday, prosecuting counsel Michael Chambers told the court the PPS were not proceeding on that charge.

He said while it had been the Crown case that Irwin, whose address is given as Holywell Hospital in Antrim, had forged the signature on the energy document, “what transpired is that she actually signed it herself so it would not be forgery in the circumstances.”

Applying to have the forgery count “left on the books", he added that “we probably could have put forward a new count of fraud but it would not add anything to the overall criminality of the case.”

None of the facts surrounding the charges were opened on Monday, but previous courts have heard how the body of Robin McMaster was discovered in the bedroom of a flat on Devenagh Way in Ballymena.

Judge Melody McReynolds told Mr Chambers and defence counsel Stephen Law she had found a similar case relating to the death of Eva Rausing.

One of Britain’s richest women, 48-year-old Mrs Rausing died in her Belgravia home in London in 2012 as a result of cocaine abuse coupled with heart problems.

Her multi-millionaire husband Hans Kristan Rausing, the heir to food packaging business Tetra Pak, was handed a suspended jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to preventing her lawful burial.

Her body lay undiscovered for two months before she was found at the couple’s’ five-storey west London home when police searched it after Mr Rausing had been stopped on suspicion of driving while under the influence.

Mr Law submitted that the case against Irwin “appears to sit more closely” to that case rather than to a recent, local case which was “driven by financial gain".

Last October at Belfast Crown Court, 24-year-old Robert Sharkey was handed a two year sentence, half to be spent in jail and half on licence, after he admitted preventing the lawful burial of Marie Conlon in October 2017 whose remains were found in “an extreme state of decomposition” in her flat at Larkspur Rise.

Remanding Irwin back into custody, Judge McReynds ordered a pre-sentence probation report and said she would pass sentence on 23 October.

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