Murder victim Pat Ward's wife not told one of husband's killers released from prison for the day

Ellie Ward says finding out that one of her husband's killers was on day release from prison on social media was like "getting a punch to the stomach".

“It was very traumatic finding out not from the system but on social media. That was very upsetting. Getting the video was like getting a punch in stomach." she said.

Pat Ward was kicked and stabbed before being stripped, dumped and left to die in an alleyway in Clogher in Co Tyrone in 2019.

28 year old Niall Cox was jailed for a minimum of 20 years in prison last September for the 30 year old's murder.

Karen McDonald was sentenced to 10 years for helping remove Pat Ward's body from her McCrea Park home.

His former partner Karen McDonald (37) was sentenced to 10 years for helping remove the father of four's body from her McCrea Park home.

McDonald is set to be released on licence and has been allowed out of prison for the day as part of that process.

Ellie had registered with the Prisoner Release Victim Information Scheme and that means you should be informed of any temporary release a prisoner is granted - but she wasn't.

“In this situation I think the victim’s family should be number one. A priority. The last thing you want is to come face to face with someone like that. It's made me feel like the system has let us down," she said.

A spokesperson for NI Prison Service said: “While the Prison Service does not comment on individual victims in such circumstances, it is important to say that victims will be contacted if they are registered with the Prison Service Victim Information Scheme.

We would encourage anyone to register if they are eligible to do so. Further information on the Scheme can be found on NI Direct Victims Information Scheme page at

“On the wider issue of pre-release testing, prisoners approaching the end of their sentence are often tested prior to release back into the community. Individuals progress by fully engaging in a number of tests which challenge and support them to make positive change in their lives around health, thinking patterns and attitudes towards their offending behaviour. After being fully risk assessed, they begin a graduated release programme into the community, firstly under supervision then progressing to short time bounded periods of unaccompanied release where they work in the community.”

"We cannot and we will not forget about Pat. For us we are still trapped ion 2019 that's when our life went upside down" Ellie Ward added.

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