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Call to consider if killer’s sentence is ‘too lenient’

Photo: Pacemaker

The Public Prosecution Service has said it is considering whether or not to refer the sentence handed down to Margaret Henderson McCarroll to the Court of Appeal, on the grounds that it may be unduly lenient.

The mother-of-two will serve three years in prison and three years on licence for the brutal murder of pensioner Eddie Girvan, who was found bound and gagged in his Greenisland home last year.

The 67-year-old had been stabbed and bound in a chair, kitchen roll had been stuffed into his mouth and he'd been gagged with a tie to stop him calling out for help.

Margaret Henderson McCarroll, who is 31 and from Verner Street in Belfast, pleaded guilty to his manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

Given the time she has spent in custody she could be free in 18 months.

A growing number of MLAs have written to the Public Prosecution Service asking it to refer the sentence to the Court of Appeal.

John Stewart of the UUP said: “I can’t get my head around it, it just doesn’t add up to me.”

In a statement, the Public Prosecution said it is now considering if there is a basis to refer the sentence handed down in this case to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that it may be unduly lenient.

The Director of Public Prosecutions now has six weeks to refer the sentence to the Court of Appeal.