Northern Ireland

Ex-policeman gets 18 years in jail for Symington murder

Annabella Symington was found dead at her south Belfast home
Image caption Annabella Symington was found dead at her south Belfast home

A former police inspector has been told he must serve 18 years in jail for murdering an elderly widow in Belfast.

Kenneth Mark McConnell, 59, from Prospect Downs, Carrickfergus, who was a gambling addict, killed Annabella Symington in a botched robbery in 1989.

Mrs Symington, 77, was killed when McConnell forced a cardigan sleeve into her mouth to stop her screaming.

McConnell was having an affair with one of Mrs Symington's nieces. He went to the house for money to pay his debts.

After killing the pensioner by suffocating her with the sleeve of her cardigan, he stole £200 before fleeing.

He was caught last year due to advances in forensic science which meant investigating officers were able to match his DNA with that found under the fingernails of the dead pensioner.

Mrs Symington's body was discovered by a neighbour at her Willesden Park home in the Stranmillis area of the city on 31 October 1989.

Mr Justice Hart said McConnell had carried out a "brutal murder of an elderly lady who had quite properly refused to provide him with the means to continue to fund his addiction".

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