Crucifix killer is set to appeal murder verdict

Karen Walsh
Karen Walsh

A pharmacist who battered an elderly neighbour to death with a crucifix is to appeal her murder conviction.

Karen Walsh’s bid to overturn a verdict that she killed Maire Rankin will be heard in June, senior judges confirmed.

Walsh, 47, is currently serving a minimum 20-year prison sentence for carrying out the deadly attack.

Mrs Rankin, 81, was found dead at her Dublin Road home in Newry, Co Down on Christmas Day 2008.

The devout Catholic had suffered 15 broken ribs and been beaten with a crucifix, which had been given to her as a wedding gift.

Evidence of a sexual assault was also discovered.

Walsh, a mother of one, worked in Dublin but often stayed at a house she owned next door to the victim.

During her trial, the prosecution claimed she arrived at Mrs Rankin’s home drunk and with a bottle of vodka.

It was alleged that she then flew into a rage and attacked the pensioner after being chastised about her drinking and told to go home to her young son.

Despite being convicted of murder, Walsh has continued to protest her innocence.

In the Court of Appeal yesterday her barrister confirmed most of the trial transcripts required as part of the bid to clear her name have been obtained.

DNA evidence and forensic notes and records are also expected to form part of the case.

After receiving the update the judges decided to list the appeal for hearing.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, sitting with Lord Justice Girvan, confirmed the challenge would go ahead on June 2.