Black Widow killer Julie McGinley strolls blissfully beside the top TV man she is set to wed — 15 years after she helped bludgeon her first husband to death.
Today Sunday Life can reveal the scheming murderer’s double life with the former BBC producer, split between their leafy Belfast suburban love nest and Ulster’s only women’s prison.
Our exclusive pictures show how McGinley — on phased release from Hydebank’s Ash House in south Belfast — enjoys regular away days with her hubby-to-be and afternoon trips to Tesco.
The Enniskillen mum-of-two — once branded a ‘devious liar’ by a judge — even has her own car parked right outside the jail doors, so she can travel to see the lover who fell for her behind bars.
Details of her secret trysts with the media man, as well as her cushy time while inside will not only sicken the family of Gerry McGinley, but infuriate fellow prisoners who say the blonde killer “gets it too easy” inside.
The 44-year-old former prostitute is serving a minimum 15 year sentence for killing her husband Gerry.
He was beaten to death by her then lover, Michael Monaghan, at the McGinley’s home in Coa, Co Fermanagh, in August 2000. Julie and Monaghan had previously tried to hire a hitman to kill her 34-year-old husband.
After the murder, Gerry’s body was dumped in woodland across the border at Ballinamore in Co Leitrim — and only found in June 2001.
But the cold-hearted killing now seems a distant memory for blonde McGinley, who looked like she didn’t have a care in the world as she stepped out for a Saturday shop with her greying fiancé, thought to be aged around 60.
Sunday Life snapped the pair pushing a trolley load of groceries outside a busy Tesco store in east Belfast.
The pair had just spent half-an-hour inside the shopping complex among shoppers who were completely unaware they were buying their bread and milk alongside one of Northern Ireland’s most notorious female killers.
Sporting a huge diamond ring on her engagement finger, McGinley, dressed in a plunging pink top and jeans, helped her hubby-to-be unpack bags of food into his car.
On another occasion, just hours after Julie left the prison grounds on her weekly release, the couple were seen packing overnight bags into a car outside his east Belfast home.
McGinley, who looked younger than her 44 years as she stood on her lover’s doorstep, dressed down in a sports t-shirt and jeans. She locked up the red bricked suburban home before being driven away. She was also seen with a couple of pet dogs.
When we called to the love nest yesterday morning her boyfriend, who we can’t name for legal reasons, told us to “go away” while McGinley looked down from an upstairs window.
Despite still being a prisoner, she is able to lead an almost ideal life just 15 years after murdering the father of her two children.
And life isn’t so bad for the killer when she is behind bars.
In an exclusive picture taken outside Hydebank’s visitor’s building, McGinley is seen roaming freely around the prison grounds.
Dressed head-to-toe in gardening gear, she smiled as she carried a bag full of gardening tools back inside the supposedly high security prison after tending to the perimeter gardens.
A prison source told Sunday Life: “Julie has almost free reign of the prison when she is on gardening duty — and it infuriates the other prisoners.
“They can’t understand how someone deemed so dangerous and capable of such a horrific murder can roam as freely and as openly as she does, without a guard, and yet someone in for shoplifting might be locked up for most of the day.
“She still spends a number of nights per week in Hydebank before spending all weekend and other occasions at her lover’s home. She is smitten with him.”
Until she is granted her full life licence next year, McGinley — who was labelled a “shrewd, devious and quick-witted” liar by a senior judge — is on prolonged periods of release from prison.
She can face continuous checks from authorities when out on phased release as she attempts to adapt to society.
As part of her release conditions she is banned from Enniskillen town or its immediate outskirts (where relatives of her victim still live), prohibited from contacting those relatives and is not allowed to take alcohol or enter licensed premises.
It is understood that when fully freed she will move in permanently with her lover — who she met when the BBC man interviewed female inmates about life behind bars. Rumours of the affair first reached BBC bosses in 2012. Our pictures are the first confirmation that the pair are together and planning to wed.
Sources said the TV veteran — behind some Northern Ireland’s leading local programmes — was hauled before bosses and admitted that he had fallen for the conniving killer.
The Black Widow’s murder plot to get rid of her husband started in the summer of 1999 when she took out a £310,000 life insurance policy on him.
In June 2000 — two months before her husband was beaten to death — she and Monaghan approached a killer for hire and paid him around £4,000 as a deposit to murder Gerry McGinley.
Police believe the hired assassin was a top republican bomber involved with the Real IRA and a former Provo.
McGinley was a victim of an IRA outrage as a teen when she was caught-up in the carnage of the devastating Enniskillen Poppy bomb that killed 11 in 1987.
Police believe McGinley unwittingly employed one of the bomb gang who nearly killed her to carry out the hit on her husband. The hired hitman plan was hatched after the plotting lovers failed in an attempt to have Gerry jailed on trumped-up drugs charges.
They planted drugs in his car and then tipped off gardai to swoop as he entered Blacklion in Co Cavan.
However, after paying the hitman’s deposit, Monaghan and McGinley were unable to raise the rest of the cash, so decided to carry out the murder themselves.
During the murder probe it was discovered that McGinley had worked as a prostitute in the Republic.
Detectives also seized a video which showed her having sex with a prominent Fermanagh businessman. This video was part of a wider sex-tape blackmail racket to extort money from businessmen.
During one attempt at the Court of Appeal in 2006, Lord Justice Sir Michael Nicholson said after hearing McGinley he was satisfied “she would lie and lie again to serve her own purposes”