Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Mairead McCallion's sister fears trainee accountant was not killer Noel Knox's only victim

By Ali Gordon

The sister of a woman killed by thug Noel Knox fears she may not have been his only victim.

Woman-beater Knox (52), whose violent attack led to the death of trainee accountant Mairead McCallion, died suddenly himself last Wednesday before her family ever got the chance to see justice done.

Mairead was one of four of Knox’s girlfriends to die and last night her sister Patricia accused him of preying on vulnerable women — and compared him to monster Leslie Ross. 

A coroner ruled last month that 36-year-old Mairead died from head injuries sustained as her partner Knox forced her out of his Omagh home in 2014.

Sunday Life can reveal that Knox, from Knockshee Park, called for an ambulance last Wednesday, claiming that he was unable to breathe. He died shortly after.

His sudden death is another agonising blow for Mairead’s family, who had made a formal request to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to consider charging Knox for the second time over her death.

The heartbroken family have broken their silence on the four women who have died while dating twisted Knox.

“The world is a safer place for women without Noel Knox in it,” Mairead’s brave sister Patricia O’Brien told Sunday Life.

“Noel Knox was a predator who preyed on vulnerable women, Mairead was his fourth partner to die.

“His three previous partners were vulnerable women, all three died suddenly, unexpectedly, and their deaths were never investigated.

“I  have spoken to the families of two of his previous partners, both of whom told stories of his violent abuse towards their loved ones.”

The inquest heard Mairead had alcohol problems and Patricia believes Knox targeted women with similar issues.

Knox was initially charged with much-loved Mairead’s murder, but the case was dropped after prosecutors raised concerns about inconclusive medical evidence.

But at a recent hearing, coroner Paddy McGurgan found that Mairead suffered a fatal trauma on February 23, 2014 which occurred “whilst the deceased was being removed from 6 Castleview Court by her then partner”.

During the inquest, Knox admitted that he had put two hands on Mairead and moved her out of his house, but he always denied any wrongdoing. The coroner said that some of the 36-year-old’s hair had been pulled out by the roots and that she died the following day from a bleed on the brain.

“Knox should have been behind bars, he shouldn’t have been able to meet and prey on my sister,” said Patricia.

“Mairead was a smart intelligent girl and Knox did not abuse her until 18 months into the relationship.

“Legislation on disclosure is sitting ready to be legislated on but without an Assembly it isn’t going to happen.

“Men like Ross and Knox need to be stopped — we need this system which allows police to warn women of these abusive men before they get sucked in by them.

“This is lifesaving legislation and it is needed now.”

The McCallion family met with their legal representatives after the coroner’s findings to call on the Public Prosecution Service to consider a prosecution in light of the ruling. They had been in contact with the PSNI and the PPS shortly before Knox’s death.

“My family feel disappointed that Knox did not live long enough to be prosecuted for Mairead’s murder,” said Patricia who vowed that the McCallion family will never stop fighting for justice and legislation for victims of domestic violence.

“We are however relieved that no more women will ever suffer at his hands.”

“We believe that a trial would have revealed the true extent of the horrific abuse my sister suffered and there is no doubt, never has there been any doubt for us that Noel Knox murdered Mairead and the coroner’s findings confirmed this for us. 

“Mr Knox was a serial abuser of women — he killed my sister, he hurt so many people with his cruel and vile deeds.

“He was a cold, evil man, the world is a safer place now that he is gone.”

Patricia added: “Part of our reason for pursuing Knox was to keep him in the spotlight so that he wouldn’t do this again.

“We didn’t want another family to suffer as we suffered — we didn’t want another woman to die and we achieved this.

“He knew that he couldn’t possibly get away with it again.

“We loved Mairead and we miss her. We will never get over the awful way she died, the awful way she suffered at the hands of a monster.”

The sister of another of Knox’s former partners who also died while they were together voiced fears that he may have played some part in her death.

Olive Wylie told Sunday Life that her sister Catriona Fulton, who suffered from alcohol addiction, was in an abusive relationship with Knox at the time of her death from liver failure.

“I spoke to the police about it but hindsight is a wonderful thing and we didn’t have a lot of evidence at the time,” she said.

“I personally felt that he was very abusive towards her and that he was quite a nasty person whenever I encountered him on a number of occasions in Catriona’s house.”

Catriona died in hospital of chronic liver failure in 2006, a week after she was found at home by her son.

“Knox was domineering towards her and trying to keep her away from us. After the event you start to think of all the things that you should have noticed beforehand or that you did notice but thought you were being over protective of her.

“It was a similar situation to Mairead’s. Catriona also had an alcohol problem. I don’t think we really know what she died from, she had never been told she had liver failure.

“It all just seemed very strange to me, coming from a nursing background, I was very suspicious about it.”

Knox was buried yesterday after a funeral mass at St Mary’s Church in Omagh attended by around 40 mourners.

Reverend Daniel McFaul described Knox as “a gentleman” and “the life and soul of the party, always up for banter”.

The revelation about abuse suffered by Knox’s previous girlfriends has disturbing similarities to the case of wife-beater and control freak Leslie Ross who died from cancer last month aged 70.

Ross from Dromore had been accused in 2015 of murdering three of his former girlfriends — Michelle Bickerstaff, Margaret Weise and Elizabeth McKee.

The stonemason was eventually cleared of all the charges but he was still facing a litany of sex charges when he died.

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