Friday 27 April 2018

Man jailed for vicious sex attack on woman was main suspect in partner's death

Lorraine White with Walter Morrissey
Lorraine White with Walter Morrissey

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

A CONVICTED killer and registered sex offender, whose sexual assault of a woman was likened to a rape with a machete, was the prime suspect in the death of a former partner.

Walter Morrissey (70), of Upper Bridge Street, Callan, Co Kilkenny, was jailed yesterday for 13 years for the aggravated sexual assault of a vulnerable young woman. He was previously questioned by gardai following the 2008 death of Lorraine White.

Ms White told nurses who treated her before she died that she placed a home-made shower head inside her front passage.

An inquest heard she died from injuries to her uterus and abdomen caused by a 10-inch copper pipe.

Gardai suspected Morrissey, who was sentenced to five years in prison in the UK in 1999 after he used his fists and other objects to indecently assault a woman, was responsible for Ms White's death.

A file was sent to the DPP following the death of Ms White, but no charges were brought.

But Morrissey has now been jailed for 13 years after a vigilant intensive care nurse and hospital staff who treated Ms White became aware that Morrissey was in the A&E unit of St Luke's Hospital, Kilkenny, where another young woman was brought after an horrific assault.

Staff immediately alerted gardai when Morrissey arrived in the A&E unit on December 8, 2011.

In the absence of the jury, Detective Sergeant Frank McKenna – who led the investigation – said that he was alerted by medical staff who found striking similarities between the two women's injuries, both of whom were accompanied to A&E by Morrissey.

Detective Sergeant Frank McKenna told the Irish Independent that the lengthy sentence Morrissey received had "vindicated" the suffering of the victim in this case.

Last night, Ms White's family said they wanted gardai to re-open the investigation into her death. Ms White's sister, Maureen Harris (58), of Ince, Wigan, said she hoped that Morrissey would spend the rest of his life behind bars.

"We would like the police to reopen the case and charge Morrissey with Lorraine's murder," said Ms Harris.

Morrissey, who was convicted of manslaughter in 1977 after he drove over a neighbour, Francis McEnery, who was out walking with his four-year-old son in Mullinahone, Co Tipperary. He received a four year jail term.

Morrissey, who sacked his legal team during his most-recent trial, smiled and waved at reporters as he was led away to prison.

He mounted a bizarre plea of mitigation to the Central Criminal Court, telling trial judge Mr Justice George Bermingham that he had extensive training in artificial insemination.

He also claimed that, owing to his victim's alcohol and substance abuse, it would take "at least six months" before her body was ready to conceive.

The trial heard graphic medical evidence in relation to the life-threatening injuries sustained by the victim, who spent 98 days in hospital.

The victim told the trial that she woke up in the early hours of the morning to find a man putting his fist up her vagina and twisting it around.

The woman had a 6-8cm tear in her vagina, which was gaping by about 2-3cm.

Dr Ray O'Sullivan told the trial that the woman's injuries were "something you would more likely see in Sub-Saharan Africa where women have been raped with machetes". He told the jury that his colleague had opened the woman's abdomen during surgery to treat an infection in her stomach, while he examined her vagina to see if he might find an infection there.

"We could physically make contact with each other while examining the woman," Dr O'Sullivan said.

Sentencing Morrissey, Judge Bermingham said that Morrissey was a "cunning, devious and manipulative" man.

He said he was concerned by his previous conviction for a double manslaughter and his conviction for seven counts of indecent assault of a woman.

Irish Independent

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