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Man who raped his 74-year-old aunt suffers fatal heart attack before appeal

Ward was found guilty by a Central Criminal Court jury following an eight-day trial
Ward was found guilty by a Central Criminal Court jury following an eight-day trial

A man jailed for raping his then 74-year-old aunt has died from a heart attack weeks before his appeal was due to be heard.

Christopher Ward, (52) with a last address in Birmingham, England, had pleaded not guilty to the rape and sexual assault of his then 74-year-old aunt Kathleen Ward at her Dundalk home on March 13, 2011.

He was found guilty by a Central Criminal Court jury following an eight-day trial and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment by Mr Justice George Birmingham on May 19 2014.

Ms Ward waived her right to anonymity at the time so that her nephew could be identified.

Ward was due to appeal his conviction and sentence in the Court of Appeal in less than two weeks time.

However, his barrister, Michael O'Higgins SC, told the Court of Appeal today that “regrettably Mr Ward had a heard attack on Friday and died”.

That in effect meant the matter will not proceed on that date, Mr O'Higgins said.

Mr Justice Birmingham, who was Ward's trial judge and would therefor not have heard the appeal, said he was sorry to hear about the news of "Mr Ward's demise”.

The appeal which was listed for hearing on Tuesday April 18 next will not now proceed.

Ruaidhrí Giblin