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Last Updated: Friday, 4 August 2006, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
'Nightmare killer' gets life term
Attracta Harron

A rapist convicted of the "callous and brutal" murder of a woman on her way home from church has been told he will spend the rest of his life in prison.

The trial judge said Trevor Hamilton's killing of retired librarian Attracta Harron was "the stuff of nightmares".

Mrs Harron, 65, from Strabane, County Tyrone, vanished on her way home from Lifford, Donegal, in December 2003.

Hamilton, 24, who was on probation, bludgeoned her to death and then buried her naked body near his home.

The Northern Ireland Office has announced a review into the management of sex offenders following the case.

It is the first time that anyone has been given a whole life sentence in prison in Northern Ireland.

Trevor Hamilton
You have an appalling previous record and the pattern of your previous offending shows a complete failure to respond to the work of the various agencies
Mr Justice McLaughlin

He was found guilty of murdering the pensioner less than four months after completing a rape sentence.

Mr Justice McLaughlin said: "The manner of her death was callous and brutal in the extreme.

He told Hamilton: "As the medical evidence shows you do not suffer from any mental illness or abnormality of personality... I do not consider it appropriate therefore to regard your age as a mitigating factor."

He said Hamilton had an "appalling previous record" and the pattern of his previous offending showed a "complete failure to respond to the work of the various agencies".

The convicted rapist displayed "devious behaviour" and had an "enduring predilection to predatory, sexual and violent offending against women," said the judge.

He said the life sentence release provisions would not apply to Hamilton, adding: "You will, in consequence, spend the rest of your life in prison."

Det Insp John Gilmore said Hamilton was "a real threat to women of all ages"
Det Insp John Gilmore said Hamilton was "a real threat to women of all ages"

Speaking outside the court on Friday, Mrs Harron's son Micheal said Hamilton was "pure evil".

"There are no other words for him. My mother did not have to die for the public to be protected from Hamilton."

Detective Inspector John Gilmore, who headed the murder investigation, said Hamilton was "a real threat to women of all ages".

"People will have confidence to walk the streets knowing this person was locked up for a long, long time," he said.

Mrs Harron 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 in Sion Mills in County Tyrone. She had been battered to death.

Her body was so badly decomposed it was impossible to establish if she had been sexually assaulted, but the prosecution said considering his previous convictions which included rape, no other conclusion could be reached.

Announcing the review into the management of sex offenders, NIO minister David Hanson said there was "no room for complacency."

"All the agencies concerned, the PSNI, Probation Service and Northern Ireland Prison Service, must strive to reduce risks to the absolute minimum," he said.

"The agencies involved in the management of Trevor Hamilton have already learned lessons from this tragic case and will continue to do so."

Attracta Harron's family speak about the verdict

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Rapist guilty of pensioner murder
12 Apr 06 |  Northern Ireland
Labourer denies murdering woman
03 Apr 06 |  Northern Ireland
Body found in Attracta search
05 Apr 04 |  Northern Ireland

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