Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Karen Walsh appeal ‘has no merit”

Karen Walsh’s appeal against her conviction for the brutal murder of Newry pensioner Maire Rankin in 2008 has “absolutely no merit,” the Court of Appeal heard last week.

Walsh is currently serving a minimum 20 year jail term for killing eighty one year old Mrs Rankin in a horrific attack that sent shockwaves throughout the district.

The pensioner was found dead in her home on Christmas Day in 2008.  She had been beaten with a crucifix and sexually assaulted.  Devout Catholic Mrs Rankin also suffered 15 broken ribs in the frenzied attack.

Karen Walsh, who  worked as a pharmacist in Dublin, but often stayed at the property she owned next door to Mrs Rankin was later found guilty of her murder.

During her trial the prosecution alleged that on the night of the murder Walsh had drank heavily, rowed with her husband and stormed off to Mrs Rankin’s house with a bottle of vodka. After being reprimanded by the pensioner for leaving her son and husband on Christmas Eve, the prosecution claimed that Mrs Walsh became enraged, grabbed the crucifix and beat her victim, staging the subsequent sexual assault to cover up her alleged crime.

Last Thursday Walsh’s lawyers claimed there was a lack of proper guidance on the case being made by the prosecution and that they went “far too far” in inviting jurors to dismiss a possible scenario which supported Walsh’s version of events.

A defence barrister said Walsh was  “entirely innocent of touching Mrs Rankin in any way” and said the failure on the part of the court to direct on the issue of intention, both in relation to intoxication and/or on the issue of the time and circumstances of death rendered her conviction “unsafe.”

A further ground of appeal centred on how the trial judge should have given a clearer direction to the jury about what was described as “four separate lies” attributed to the defendant.

The defence claimed the prosecution had told the jury to use the lies to support a prosecution in “a circumstantial case”.

A prosecution barrister said there was “absolutely no merit in any of the arguments presented by the appellant” and told the court that it will still be “satisfied the verdict is safe.”

The appeal continues.