Belfast Telegraph

Police tapes reveal pensioner murder accused feared she'd be blamed

By John Mulgrew

A woman accused of murdering her elderly next-door neighbour feared police would think she killed the pensioner as she was the last to visit her, a court has heard.

Karen Walsh (45) made the comments during a taped interview with police, which was played in court yesterday.

“Oh my sweet divine. I was probably the last person there. They are probably going to think it was me,” she said.

Maire Rankin (81) was found dead at her Dublin Road home in Newry on Christmas Day, 2008.

Her next-door neighbour Karen Walsh is accused of her murder.

In the fourth day of the trial at Belfast’s Laganside Court, evidence was also heard from Professor Jack Crane, State Pathologist for Northern Ireland, who told the court Mrs Rankin’s death had been due to a “multiplicity of blows” and evidence of bleeding and bruising had indicated some form of sexual assault.

He said that injuries to her face had been caused by an assault with a blunt object — possibly a crucifix — which was found lying on the floor beside the deceased woman’s body, and that the bruising on her chin was consistent with the crown of thorns on Jesus’ head.

He added that her head injuries and multiple rib fractures had been exacerbated by her age, along with medical problems such as hypertension and asthmatic bronchitis.

Karen Walsh remained calm throughout yesterday’s hearing but looked down at the floor as the jury was shown her police interview — recorded the day after Mrs Rankin was found dead.

During the interview Mrs Walsh recounted her relationship with the deceased, who she described as a “lovely person — you couldn’t fault”.

According to Mrs Walsh, she visited her elderly next-door neighbour shortly before midnight on Christmas Eve, 2008, where she brought a bottle of vodka and a card.

She spent some time with Mrs Rankin, who she said “wasn’t in good form” and was “wheezy” due to her health problems.

During her time in Mrs Rankin’s bedroom, Karen Walsh drank |several times straight from the bottle of vodka — according to the state pathologist, there was no presence of alcohol found in Mrs Rankin’s blood.

After receiving an assurance from the pensioner that she would “be okay”, Mrs Walsh said she left her neighbour’s house at around 2.30am.

She was informed the next morning, by her husband Richard Durkin, that Mrs Rankin’s house had been sealed off.

The trial continues on Monday.

Belfast Telegraph

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