A 30-year old woman is to stand trial for the murder of a Co Antrim pensioner who was bound, gagged and stabbed to death in his home earlier this year.
Margaret Henderson-McCarroll appeared at Belfast Crown Court on Friday where she denied murdering Greenisland man Eddie Girvan.
The 67-year old was killed in his Station Road home on January 18.
Henderson-McCarroll - whose address was given as Hydebank YOC - denied 10 charges arising from Mr Girvan’s death, including stealing the victim’s car.
During the same hearing, a defence barrister made an application for compassionate bail to allow Henderson-McCarroll to attend Roselawn Cemetary.
The application was refused by Mr Justice Treacy, who said that whilst the court was sympathetic, he was “not prepared to take a risk” and grant the request, due to the “seriousness” of the charges she faces.
Prior to the unsuccessful bail application, Crown prosecutor Charles McCreanor QC outlined the Crown case against Henderson-McCarroll, telling the court the accused had admitted being in the victim’s company and “made admissions to leaving him (Mr Girvan) bound and gagged”.
Mr McCreanor also said nine other offences levelled against Henderson-McCarroll - including attempting to steal money from Mr Girvan the day before he was killed as well as taking his car after his death and crashing it in Belfast city centre - were “part and parcel” of the same incident.
The prosecutor told the court Henderson-McCarroll has admitted being in Mr Girvan’s company “over the space of the weekend”.
He also revealed it was the prosecution’s case that an argument about money led to the death of Mr Girvan.
Mr McCreanor said it was the Crown’s case that Henderson-McCarroll stabbed Mr Girvan, left him bound and gagged them “left the scene” at around 7.15am on January 18.
He also said it was the Crown’s case that Henderson-McCarroll then drove off in Mr Girvan’s Hyundai Sonata, she caused a collision in the centre of Belfast then drove off before making her way to her address at Verner Street where Mr Girvan’s car was eventually located.
Mr McCreanor added it was the Crown’s case that all ten charges were “part and parcel of potentially what led to the argument and then the death of Mr Girvan, and how the defendant reacted in respect of that”.
Henderson-McCarroll denied, all ten charges. As all the charges were read to her, she replied ‘not guilty’ to all 10.
Amongst the charges she denied were murder, attempting to steal £20 from the victim the day before his death and stealing a number of items - including a Satnav, a watch, a ring and a digital camera - from Mr Girvan on the day he died.
Henderson-McCarroll also denied seven motoring offences. These included aggravated vehicle taking, driving whilst unfit, dangerous driving on roads between the M5 and Verner Street, and failing to both remain at the scene of and report an accident where damage was caused to another car.
After Henderson-McCarroll denied all the charges, defence barrister John McCrudden QC spoke of the “voluminous” evidence in the case, such as CCTV footage from Greenisland and Belfast as well as photographic evidence.
He also said he would be instructing several experts such as an engineer, a psychiatrist and a toxicologist.
Revealing the trial is expected to last three weeks, Mr McCrudden said a realistic date would be next March.
Mr Justice Treacy expressed the hope that the trial may be held sooner, and listed the case for review at the end of November.
Following this, Henderson-McCarroll’s legal team made an application for compassionate bail. A defence barrister said: “Since the date of her arrest, Ms Henderson has been remanded in custody in Hydebank.”
Revealing an application for bail which was made in the High Court in June was refused, the barrister continued: “The application is to permit her a temporary visit to Roselawn Cemetary in Belfast on a particular date, which is of significance to Ms Henderson.
“Before she was arrested and before she was in custody, that would have been an annual visit for her. It is a date that is of great significance to her.”
The barrister said that if bail was granted, his client “would of course abide by any further conditions”.
At that point, a letter written by Henderson-McCarroll was handed to the Judge.
When asked the prosecutions’s view, Mr McCreanor said that whilst the Crown was sympathetic, today’s application was “so far removed from the usual compassionate bail application” and also branded the charges faced by Henderson-McCarroll as “very serious”.
Mr Justice Treacy then refused to grant compassionate bail, saying he was not prepared to take a risk by releasing Henderson-McCarroll. She was then remanded back to Hydebank.