Daughter brands mother’s killer ‘cruel’

THE daughter of a pensioner murdered on Christmas morning almost three years ago has branded her mother’s killer a cruel woman who stripped the 81-year-old of the right to a peaceful death.

Loughbrickland woman Brenda Rankin was speaking after her mother Maire’s killer Karen Walsh was last week convicted of the brutal murder in December 2008.

Brenda found her mother lying naked and bruised on the bedroom floor of her Newry house - she had come to collect her for Christmas dinner at her home in Loughbrickland. Speaking following Walsh’s conviction almost three years after the murder, Brenda said the brutal killing had left the family devastated.

“We compare (Mrs Rankin’s death) to daddy’s death where mummy held his hand and stroked his face and all eight of us were in the room with him,” she told the BBC.

Brenda, one of Mrs Rankin’s eight children, recalled the horrifying scene when she entered her mother’s house on Christmas Day.

“Her face was all bruised and marked,” she said. “She was partially covered, she was lying naked on the floor and there were clumps of hair lying all over the room.”

Brenda and her siblings had to endure more than a week of evidence, detailing the brutal circumstances of the attack on their mother. Karen Walsh, a Galway-born pharmacist who worked in Dublin with her executive husband, had called to Mrs Rankin’s Dublin Road home in Newry on Christmas Eve with a bottle of vodka.

The prosecution claimed the 45-year-old got drunk and became aggressive, eventually becoming so enraged that she battered Marie Rankin to death. They then claim she staged a sexual assault using a crucifix on the dead pensioner’s body.

Walsh maintained her innocence throughout the trial but the jury took less than two hours to return a guilty verdict last week. Brenda added that Walsh, who will serve a life sentence for the murder, will also have to live with the shame of her actions.

“The horrible things that happened to mummy, the shame of that is Karen Walsh’s shame,” she said. “For having done that to an elderly lady in the privacy of her bedroom, in the early hours of Christmas morning and leaving her naked and battered knowing that her family was going to find her - that I find hard to take and cruel, very cruel.”