[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 April 2006, 12:44 GMT 13:44 UK
Rapist guilty of pensioner murder
Murder victim Attracta Harron
Attracta Harron was found in a makeshift grave
A 23-year-old man has been found guilty of murdering a County Tyrone pensioner less than four months after completing a rape sentence.

Trevor William Hamilton, of Concess Road, Sion Mills, had denied killing Attracta Harron, whose body was found in a makeshift grave near his home.

Hamilton, who showed no emotion at the verdict, may never be released.

The 65-year-old retired librarian from Strabane vanished while walking home from Mass in December 2003.

The body of the mother of five was found four months later in a makeshift grave dug into the side of a riverbank bordering Mr Hamilton's home.

She had been battered to death.

It took a jury of six men and six women at Dungannon Crown Court just over four hours in a period of two days to convict Hamilton, a farm labourer.

The case made legal history, as the jury was allowed to hear evidence of Hamilton's previous convictions.

Trevor Hamilton
February 2000: Aged 17, Hamilton rapes 29-year-old woman - sent to a young offenders centre for seven years
December 2003: Just four months after he is released, Attracta Harron goes missing
March 2004: Hamilton charged with Mrs Harron's murder. Days later, Mrs Harron's body found in makeshift grave near Hamilton's home
April 2006: Hamilton found guilty of Mrs Harron's murder

Hamilton had been sent to a young offenders centre for seven years after pleading guilty to raping, assaulting and threatening to kill a 29-year-old woman in February 2000 when he was 17.

He had been released less than four months when he abducted and killed Mrs Harron.

On Wednesday, Mr Justice McLaughlin said he was sentencing Hamilton to life immediately.

He said that the tariff on the sentence, which has yet to be decided, would possibly be the longest given in Northern Ireland.

"Some day you had better explain to the rest of us what you did to that poor woman, how you killed her, where you killed her and why you did it," he said.

The judge said he had every sympathy with the jury as the case had taken a toll on him personally.

Speaking outside the court after the trial, Mrs Harron's daughter, Eilis Harron-Ponsenby, said the family were "relieved and pleased" at the verdict.

Perhaps this case will raise questions that need to be answered so that no other family needs to suffer as we have
Eilis Harron-Ponsenby
Attracta Harron's daughter
"We have had to endure an lengthy trial because this man, Trevor Hamilton, has never shown any remorse for his actions," she said.

"Trevor Hamilton was a complete stranger to my mother and the rest of my family, so it's hard to comprehend why he chose to abduct her."

She said her mother was a "kind, generous and loving person" who "lived life to the full".

She added: "It's hard to understand how he could serve only three and a half years for a violent rape and associated offences, and then whilst on probation be able to carry out this terrible deed.

"Perhaps this case will raise questions that need to be answered so that no other family needs to suffer as we have."

Acting Detective Chief Inspector John Gilmore, who led the PSNI investigation, said he had "no doubt" that people in the area would "be safer knowing this person has been found guilty".

Labourer denies murdering woman
03 Apr 06 |  Northern Ireland
Man remanded on murder charge
28 Mar 04 |  Northern Ireland
Body found in Attracta search
05 Apr 04 |  Northern Ireland


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific