Saturday 24 February 2018

Sex-attack man may have legal aid revoked

Walter Morrissey
Walter Morrissey

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

A CONVICTED killer jailed for 13 years for a brutal sex attack on a young woman, likened to a rape with a machete, may have his criminal legal aid revoked.

Walter Morrissey (70), the prime suspect in the death of a former partner, had spent many years buying and restoring properties in Wigan and Manchester before returning to Ireland in 2003 following his release from prison.

Morrissey was jailed earlier this week for the aggravated sexual assault of a young woman who was left with life-threatening injuries, spending four months in hospital recovering from her ordeal.

Morrissey, who had a litany of previous convictions including manslaughter, child abduction and indecently assaulting a woman using his fists, was granted legal aid for his latest criminal trial.

The father of eight discharged his legal team during the trial, attacking his victim during the course of his self-defence.

Sentencing Morrissey, trial judge Mr Justice George Birmingham said that reference to Morrissey's interests in Ireland and the neighbouring jurisdiction – even though they had not been spelt out in full – merited "further consideration by the authorities" to establish if legal aid was properly granted in the trial and if it should be granted in the future.

It will be up to Justice Minister Alan Shatter, whose department oversees the operation of the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, to decide if Morrissey's legal aid should be revoked.

Morrissey was previously questioned by gardai following the 2008 death of Lorraine White who died of internal bleeding.

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.

Irish Independent

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