Recommended tariff 'a consolation'
JUDGES in Northern Ireland can recommend a minimum tariff a life prisoner must serve before being eligible for parole.
Galway-born pharmacist Karen Walsh received a mandatory life sentence in Belfast two years ago for the murder of 81-year-old Maire Rankin.
The judge said Walsh had inflicted a brutal and sustained assault on the frail pensioner who was beaten with a crucifix and sexually assaulted.
The victim's daughter, Brenda, said the 20-year minimum tariff Walsh rec-eived was a consolation for her family.
"Life doesn't really mean life, and there is often a huge disparity between the sentence handed down and the sentence actually served," said the Newry schoolteacher.
"We found the tariff reassuring, but not for vindictive reasons. The minimum 20 years Karen Walsh must serve acts as a deterrent and sends out a message about the value of life.
"The minimum tariff was hugely important for us as a family as we knew that the judge viewed this as a severe crime.
"Guilty verdicts don't bring a person back, but it is good to know, as was the case with Walsh's 20-year minimum term, that justice is on your side."