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Cold case trial hears of widow's murder 30 years ago


John Joseph Malone Photo: Collins Courts

John Joseph Malone Photo: Collins Courts

Collins Courts.

John Joseph Malone Photo: Collins Courts

A cold case murder trial has been told that a member of a bible study group strangled a widowed pensioner and set her house on fire.

John Joseph Malone is charged with murdering 69-year-old Ann (Nancy) Smyth on September 11, 1987 at her home on Wolfe Tone Street, Kilkenny.

Mr Malone (53) of Newpark, Kilkenny, has pleaded not guilty and has gone on trial at the Central Criminal Court.

Sean Gillane SC, prosecuting, opened the case for the jury. He said that this was a 'cold case', but that he couldn't take any advantage from that.

He said that Ms Smyth, who lost her husband the previous year, lived alone with her labrador in a detached bungalow.

He said that on Thursday, September 10, she went to a local pub and later the publican dropped her home.

Mr Gillane said that a man driving by noticed her house on fire around 5am. The emergency services found Ms Smyth with extensive burns.

There was no immediate suspicion, but on further examination, her cause of death was found to be asphyxia due to neck compression.

The court was told that a neighbour had heard an argument around 12.30am or 1am. A man was shouting: 'Let me f***ing in' and 'I'll f***ing get you'.

Mr Gillane told the jurors they would hear from a member of a bible study group that Mr Malone had also attended.

He would say that the accused told him he had fought with Nancy Smyth that night, that he had struck her, that she'd died and that he had set fire to the house.

The publican who brought her home that night, Thomas Lahart, testified that she was a bit merry when he brought her home. "I said: 'I'll go now, Nancy. Good luck and God bless'," he recalled.

The trial, before Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, continues.

Irish Independent