Karen Marie McDonald (37) of McCrea Park, Clogher, denies murdering Pat Ward on February 9, 2019
Karen Marie McDonald (37) of McCrea Park, Clogher, denies murdering Sligo man Pat Ward on February 9, 2019.
Her partner Niall Cox (27), also a native of Sligo, of the same address, initially also denied murdering Mr Ward, but changed his plea in June, although this could not be reported at the time.
Addressing the jury at Dungannon Crown Court, prosecution counsel John Orr KC explained the victim lived in the Clogher area at the time and on the night in question was socialising in a neighbour’s home.
He left this property and crossed the road to the home of McDonald and her then partner Cox who was known to him for some time.
After going indoors briefly, the victim emerged with the pair and headed to a local off-licence, purchasing alcohol.
On the return trip, the victim called briefly at his own home then joined McDonald and Cox in her house.
Shortly after midnight the three again made their way to another property but didn’t get in.
Around 4.45am CCTV shows 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.
On seeing a light in McDonald’s home, she called there, where the door was opened by Cox.
Once inside the hallway, McDonald allegedly shouted, “Who the f*** do you think you are? Get out of my house.”
Mrs Ward asked if they knew where her husband was and was told he had "left to get a taxi to Enniskillen", although there is no indication of this on CCTV of the area.
McDonald also told Mrs Ward: “I’ve two kids upstairs. Who do you think I am to have Pat Ward in my house? I have a 12 and a 13-year-old here.”
A police search of her home would establish there were no children there, and Mr Orr put to the jury: “Why did she lie to this man’s wife?”
Mrs Ward returned home and rang police to establish if he had been arrested or if they knew of his whereabouts.
Around an hour later CCTV showed two people dragging a body out of McDonald's house, and while involuntary movements are noted, it was not possible to ascertain if he was still alive at this point.
She was holding his legs while Cox pulled him along by the arms.
After a short time, McDonald returned to her home while Cox continued to drag the victim into an alleyway, where he was abandoned.
A witness claims he heard the victim say: “Don’t kill me.”
After a few minutes Cox returned to McDonald’s home.
As daylight was breaking a couple walking to work found Mr Ward, face-down in the alley, wearing only shorts and underwear which had gathered around his knees.
An ambulance was first to arrive at the scene and it was quickly established Mr Ward was deceased.
A post-mortem examination found he suffered multiple injuries including severe head trauma and lacerations to his upper body.
Police commenced an investigation, during which a neighbour alerted them to CCTV footage taken from his home, showing Mr Ward being dragged toward the alley.
McDonald’s house was searched, and blood-stained clothing was found in her washing machine, which matched that shown to be worn by Mr Ward the evening before.
Blood was also noted on the walls and ceiling, as well as in the bathroom.
Mr Orr told the jury: “You will have to decide who caused that. Mr Cox has admitted murder, leaving the defendant as the third person who was in the house.”
The trial is expected to last just over two weeks.