Murder trial | 

Tyrone woman appears in court charged with ‘frenzied’ murder of amateur boxer

Karen Marie McDonald appeared in court almost four years to the day since the lifeless, half-naked body of Pat Ward (30) was found

Karen Marie McDonald is accused of killing Pat Ward (inset)

Karen Marie McDonald who has gone on trial for the murder of Pat Ward.

Co Tyrone murder victim Pat Ward

Tanya FowlesBelfast Telegraph

A Co Tyrone woman has gone on trial accused of the murder of an amateur boxer.

Karen Marie McDonald appeared in court almost four years to the day since the lifeless, half-naked body of Pat Ward (30) was discovered in Clogher.

McDonald (37), of McCrea Park, Clogher, denies murdering Mr Ward on February 9, 2019.

The deceased was dragged from her home and abandoned in an alleyway.

Dressed in a navy jacket and skirt, she appeared alone in the dock of Dungannon Crown Court.

While her partner, Niall Cox (27), of the same address, initially also denied murder and was to stand trial alongside her, he changed his plea in June 2022, although this could not be reported at the time.

The victim died following what police described as a sustained, frenzied attack.

A married father of four children, Mr Ward was a member of the Traveller community and a champion boxer.

Originally from Sligo, he and his young family had only recently moved to the Clogher area before his death.

Karen Marie McDonald who has gone on trial for the murder of Pat Ward.

Addressing the jury, prosecution counsel John Orr KC explained that the victim was socialising in a neighbour’s home on the night in question, then walked the short distance to McDonald’s home, having known Cox for some time.

CCTV showed him enter the house then quickly emerge with the pair, before all three headed to a local shop and purchased alcohol.

On return, the victim called briefly at his own home then joined McDonald and Cox in her house.

Around 4.45am, CCTV captured the victim’s widow, Ellen Ward, wearing nightclothes, walking in the area looking for him, calling at one house, where she was told he “might have been scooped” by police.

Seeing a light in McDonald’s home, she called there. When Cox opened the door, McDonald allegedly shouted: “Who the f*** do you think you are? Get out of my house.”

On asking if they knew where her husband was, Mrs Ward was told he “got a taxi to Enniskillen”. However, there is no indication of this on CCTV.

McDonald also said to Mrs Ward: “Who do you think I am to have Pat Ward in my house? I’ve a 12- and a 13-year-old upstairs.”

A police search of her home would establish no children were there, leading Mr Orr to query why she would lie about this.

Mrs Ward returned home and rang police to establish if he had been arrested, which he hadn’t.

CCTV footage then showed Cox dragging a body out of McDonald’s house by the arms, and while she initially held one of the victim’s legs, she dropped it after a few seconds and went back indoors.

As Cox continued to drag Mr Ward towards the alleyway, involuntary movements were noted, but it wasn’t possible to ascertain if he was still alive at this point.

Having abandoned the victim, Cox returned to McDonald’s home.

Co Tyrone murder victim Pat Ward

Around an hour later, a couple walking to work found Mr Ward, face down, wearing only shorts and underwear, which had gathered around his knees.

A post-mortem examination revealed multiple injuries, including severe head trauma and upper-body lacerations.

Police commenced an investigation, seizing CCTV footage from the area, and a search of McDonald’s house recovered blood-stained clothing in her washing machine matching that worn by Mr Ward the previous evening.

Blood was also located on the walls, ceiling and some furniture in several rooms.

Mr Orr told the jury they will have to decide who caused that, as the victim was deceased, Cox has admitted murder, leaving only the defendant as the third person in the house.

The trial continues.

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