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Suicide note ‘was found at home of murder accused policeman'

Police found a suicide note at the home of a retired police officer accused of murdering a Belfast pensioner nearly 20 years ago, a court has heard.

Eighty-year-old Annabella Symington, a childless widow, was found strangled at her south Belfast home on Halloween night in 1989.

Yesterday Kenneth McConnell (58), of Prospect Downs in Carrickfergus, appeared before Belfast Magistrates Court to face one charge of murder.

The former police inspector, who was medically discharged from the RUC in 1990 and worked as a private investigator before working as a security guard at the University of Ulster, was arrested at the university’s Jordanstown campus on Tuesday.

Appearing before District Judge Fiona Bagnall, the defendant who has grey, balding hair and wore a grey woollen cardigan buttoned over a red jumper appeared calm, mouthed the words “I love you” and waved to his wife who was sitting in the public gallery.

He spoke only to confirm that he understood the charges being put to him.

Defence barrister Richard |McConkey told the court there was a “significant psychiatric background” in respect of his client and revealed that police had found a suicide note at his home in 2007.

A PSNI detective inspector confirmed that she could connect McConnell to the charge. No application for bail was made.

Mystery has surrounded Mrs Symington’s murder which sent shock waves across Northern Ireland. The widow’s body was discovered at her Willesden Park home in the affluent Stranmillis area by a neighbour. Part of her cardigan had been stuffed into her mouth and she had cuts and bruises to her head. There were no signs of forced entry and there were two teacups on the draining board, prompting speculation she had known her killer.

Mr McConnell was remanded in custody and is expected to appear again via videolink on February 27.

Belfast Telegraph