Newry murder victim’s daughter agrees with CJI Report

Declan McAteer Posted by
Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Mairead McElkerney, the daughter of murdered Newry pensioner Maire Rankin, has spoken out after a Criminal Justice Inspection (CJI) report found that care given to victims and witnesses of crime needs to improve. Maire Rankin was murdered at her home in Newry on Christmas Day in 2008 and it took a staggering two years and 8 months before her killer, neighbour Karen Walsh was sentenced.

Mrs McElkerney said; “It was our mother that was murdered, so you can’t sit back. It’s not that you want to interfere, you just want to know what’s happening from week to week. For that time, our lives were on hold. There were quite a few delays, some of them were unavoidable, but the first 17 months in the case, it sat in the magistrates’ court going nowhere and that really was a complete waste of time.”

The victim’s daughter continued, “Once it went to the Crown court, we got four different trial dates and they were cancelled right at the last minute, twice on the day the trial was to start. If you knew that the trial would be in a year’s time, you could make plans for that. But, when it was going from month to month, it was really difficult and it really did impact on your lives and your ability to function.”

She added, “As victims, you’re on the sidelines and it’s difficult because it has happened to you and you don’t have a voice. All we wanted was for people to keep us informed, to have somebody there, a liaison person, an advocate – somebody that you could ask questions, that could explain the process.”

Dr Michael Maguire from the Criminal Justice Inspection echoed Mairead’s sentiments. He said, “The clear message is that there is still a substantial minority that were unhappy with their experience of the criminal justice system. One of the important messages to come out of the report is the need for empathy and understanding in relation to the needs of victims and witnesses, they enter into the justice system through no fault of their own and it’s important that there isn’t a one size fits all approach in dealing with individuals.”

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