‘God gave me strength to forgive men who murdered my husband’

Mr Goddard's wife, pictured at an earlier court hearing
Mr Goddard's wife, pictured at an earlier court hearing

The widow of east Belfast man Matt Goddard has said she is able to forgive his murderers.

Maureen Goddard, who is originally from Zimbabwe, said that due to her Christian faith, she has found it within herself to forgive William and James Turner, but said their judgement will come “when they meet their maker.”

Mr Goddard

Mr Goddard

She also revealed it “was an honour” to be Matt’s wife.

The 45-year woman sat in the public gallery of Belfast Crown Court earlier on Friday where she watched the Turner brothers be sentenced to a minimum of 17 years for murdering her husband at Christmas 2014.

Mrs Goddard, who said she hasn’t yet been able to grieve for her husband, revealed the electric guitar the Turner brothers broke whilst beating Matt was a Christmas present.

She said: “He never played a musical instrument, he got that guitar as a present and was just starting to learn to play it.

Revealing that her husband was a “wonderful” stepfather to her two children, Mrs Goddard said she still expects to pick up her phone and see texts from him.

She also said that now her husband is dead, she may return to live in England as she is fearful that her “protector” has gone. She now carries a panic button with her and “feels very unsafe.”

She said she first met Matt in 2001 when they both living in England, and in 2006 they moved to Belfast as Matt “wanted to come back home.”

She also said Matt had a “very good sense of humour”, was a “very happy person” and was very protective of his family.

Mrs Goddard revealed Matt was a wonderful stepfather to her two children, who are now 26 and 18. She said her son is now an engineer after completing a degree - which she says is down to Matt’s encouragement and support - while her daughter is planning to go to university in September.

She said: “Matt never referred to the kids as his step-children. He said they were his children, and they called him Dad.”

Despite saying she has forgiven the Turner brothers and Christian Walker for what they did, she said she is still traumatised by how her husband met his death.

Revealing she was attending a family funeral in Zimbabwe at the time of the murder, Mrs Goddard said: “When Matt was murdered, I didn’t understand what happened.

“I am a great believer in God, but my faith at that time wavered - but I knew I had to find the strength to carry on for my children’s sake.

“I knew I had to find it in myself for forgive them, and I had to prepare for the sentences they got. When the sentence was read out in court, it didn’t really matter to me. Whether they got two years, 20 years, 50 years, 100 years, that is not going to bring my husband back.

“I have forgiven them, but when they meet their maker, they will be judged. May God her mercy on their souls.”

She is also adamant that a ‘third party’ told the Turner brothers what her husband is alleged to have said about James. She said: “I don’t believe he said that, but even if he did that does not give them the right to murder him.

“This was an alleged comment, and I think the person who said that to the Turners should also have been in the dock.”

Mrs Goddard said she only found out last Friday in court that her husband was still alive when William and James Turner, and Christian Walker, left the house.

She said: “How humiliating must it have been for Matt to have been made to crawl and apologise. Matt was such a fragile person, he was only around nine stones. If you pushed him he would have fallen over.

“I think what they did to him, making him crawl around his own house when he would have been in such great pain, then wrapping him in a sheet ... who does that to another human being?

“I keep telling myself that what happened to Matt really didn’t happen, that he’s still alive and he’s coming home. I keep checking my phone to see have I got a text message from him.

“I love him and miss him every day and I just feel so alone now. I never even got the chance to say goodbye to him. It was an honour to have been his wife.”

Judge recounts murdering thugs’ actions:

James and William Turner beat Matthew Goddard to death in his Chobham Street home late on the evening of December 23, 2014. They battered him with fists, feet and an electric guitar before taking turns to stamp On his head as he lay at the bottom of his stairs.

During the fatal attack, which lasted around ten minutes, the Belfast brothers made the 41-year old victim crawl on all fours, apologising for an alleged comment he made about James Turner being ‘a sandwich short of a picnic.’

Mr Goddard - whose lifeless body was discovered wrapped in a curtain at the bottom of the stairs the following evening - is believed to have been alive when the Turner brothers, and co-accused Christian Walker, left his house.

Just prior to launching their murderous attack on Mr Goddard, the Turner brothers had been socialising in the King Richard pub. Following an argument over a game of pool, a reveller in the bar was attacked by William Turner.

Whilst on the ground, William Turner jumped on the man and gouged his eye. As a result, the man is now completely blind in one eye.

Passing sentence today, Mr Justice Treacey said that prior to the incident in both the King Dick and the murder of Mr Goddard, the Turners has consumed drink and cocaine.

Mr Justice Treacey said William Turner later admitted that it was his intention that night to ‘go round and give Matt a good slap’ for the comment he made about his brother James.

The judge said: “After they secured entry to his house, William Turner and James Turner subjected the victim to a sustained, merciless and brutal assault. They used fists, feet and smashed an electric guitar over his head with such verocity that it smashed in to pieces.”

Mr Justice Treacy told Belfast Crown Court that the brothers took turns to stamp on their victim’s head, and that “considerable leverage” was used to the point where a bannister was dislodged.

Both brothers came before the court with criminal records, which includes previous offences for violence. At an earlier court hearing, they were each handed life sentences after they pleaded guilty to murderung Mr Goddard.

William Turner (37) from Glenlea Grove and his 30-year old brother, from Dunraven Court, were each told today they will have to serve a minimum sentence of 17 years - without any remission - before they are considered eligible for release by the Paroles Commission.

William was also given a discretionary life sentence with a tariff of ten years for the assault in the King Richard which blinded a man in one eye.

Co-accused Christian Walker - who was with the Turners at the murder but who did not particpate - provided a false alibi for the brothers. He claimed that on the evening of the murder, he had been drinking and playing computer games with the brothers and they were all in each other’s company from 8pm until 3pm the following day.

The 27-year old, from Ribble Street, later gave a full and frank admission to police about what happened to Mr Goddard, and admitted two offences - namely perverting the Course of Justice, and conspiring with the Turner brothers with intent to pervert the course of justice.

Regarding Walker, Mr Justice Treacy said that after reading several reports on him - including the fact he was in fear and panic-stricken both during and after the murder - it was with “considerable hesitation” that Walker’s case was exceptional.

Walker was then handed an 18-month prison sentence which was suspended for two years.

After the sentences were imposed, Walker was released while the Judge told prison staff to “take the defendants down.” At this point a woman in the public gallery started clapping and jeering at the Turner brothers.

The woman calls the pair “scumbags” and “evil murdering b******s” and shouted “I hope you enjoy your new home.”

Following the outburst, Mr Justice Treacy ordered that the public gallery be cleared.