News

Mum beaten by violent couple in Belfast finally sees justice

NewsBy Roisin Gorman
Karen Girvan
Karen Girvan
Chris Murray and Margaret Jackson
Chris Murray and Margaret Jackson

Battling mum Karen Girvan has got justice after her horrific Christmas attack.

The 37-year-old is still recovering from a sustained assault in front of her autistic 12-year-old son.

Just two days before Christmas last year she was dragged off the street in Belfast city centre and trailed to her nearby flat where a three-strong gang pummelled her.

While one of the assailants screamed that he was in the UDA his accomplices beat her around her home, pulling out clumps of hair and leaving her badly bruised.

Karen was in court last week as Chris Murray, his partner Margaret Jackson and the UDA man were convicted. For the sake of her safety she has asked Sunday World not to name the paramilitary.

And she revealed that Margaret was a friend whose two young children Karen regularly looked after.

But that bond meant nothing last year when Jackson joined in after Murray and his friend set upon the single mum.

Heartless Murray, who lives with Jackson at the same Great Victoria Street apartments as Karen, even threatened to attack the tiny chihuahua support dog which has transformed her autistic son Robert’s life.

“He threatened to stick his boot into the dog, Dappy, even though he knew how much it means to Robert. If he’d kicked it he would have killed it and I pleaded with him not to touch it,” says Karen.

Murray (29) showed no such mercy to his 4ft 11in victim in the December 23 attack, setting upon her as she returned from a local shop.

He screamed abuse at her about allegations Karen had made concerning the theft of £200 in Christmas cards from her home, and in front of passers-by in the busy city centre street he and his friend began punching her.

“They dragged me up the steps to my apartment and threw me against my door to open it.

“Chris had called from the street for Margaret to join in and the three of them just kept beating me.”

Karen was punched and kicked in the head and had clumps of her hair torn out. The gang also tried to strangle her during the sustained assault as she lay helpless on the ground.

Despite the violent beating her first thought was for Robert who was hysterical as he witnessed the attack on his mum.

He was thrown on to his bed by Murray and kicked, and eventually locked himself in the bathroom where he was so shaken he pulled the light cord out of the ceiling.

Murray had the assault charge relating to Robert withdrawn in court last week – however Karen says the PPS has assured her it will be pursuing that in the future.

The brave mum of one agreed to a lesser charge against Murray in return for a guilty plea to attempted assault and theft of her mobile phone. He was given a conditional discharge for a year and ordered to pay £200 victim compensation.

Mother-of-two Jackson (27) was convicted of common assault and bound over to keep the peace for a year.

The third assailant was also convicted of assault and bound over to keep the peace for a year. He was the only one of the trio to offer Karen an apology in court.

Karen says Jackson and Murray had been neighbours for three years and she’d supported them with their children.

“I helped her out, I looked after her kids, and supported her when she complained about him spending all their money.

“In return Margaret and Chris put me through this terrible experience in front of my son.”

Karen paid tribute to Social Services for their support during the ordeal and to the witness who came forward to give evidence last week.

“I get support from Social Services because of Robert and there are two wonderful girls there who were brilliant to me through all of this.

“I also want to thank the independent witness who gave up her time to come to court last week. Robert is still very sore about what happened but we will get through this,” says Karen.

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