Woman (31) jailed for manslaughter of retired plumber (67)

‘Horrific’ killing in Co Antrim blamed on diminished responsibility due to ‘heroin hell’

The judge told the court: “This was an horrific crime and the deceased must have suffered terribly.”

The judge told the court: “This was an horrific crime and the deceased must have suffered terribly.”


A mother-of-two was jailed on Monday for three years for what a senior judge described as the “horrific” killing of pensioner Eddie Girvan in Co Antrim last year.

Margaret Henderson-McCarroll (31), formerly of Verner Street, Belfast, had previously pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of the 67-year-old retired plumber who was stabbed, gagged and bound at his Greenisland home on January 18th, 2017.

Dressed in denim jeans, black jacket and white top and with her red hair now dyed blonde, Henderson-McCarroll acknowledged family and friends in the public gallery as she was brought into court in handcuffs by prison staff.

Passing sentence on Monday at Belfast Crown Court, Mr Justice Treacy said the defendant would serve a further three years on licence as part of the six-year determinant custodial sentence he was imposing.

He said that he agreed with two consultant forensic psychologists that Henderson-McCarroll did not meet the dangerous provisions and that she did not pose a “significant risk of serious harm to the public in the future”.

The judge told the court: “This was an horrific crime and the deceased must have suffered terribly.”

Guilty plea

The prosecution accepted her guilty plea to the manslaughter of the Mr Girvan on the grounds of “diminished responsibilty”.

Her defence had argued that at the time of the killing Henderson-McCarroll was high on a cocktail of heroin and crystal drugs.

A defence QC had told a plea and sentence hearing in June this year that at the time of the manslaughter her life had descended into a “heroin hell” following the cot death of her infant daughter.

Summarising the background to the case, Mr Justice Treacy told the court today that Henderson-McCarroll had known Mr Girvan for a number of years and she received “money for sex with him”.

He went on: “Police received a report of a road traffic accident in Belfast on the morning of January 18th, 2016, involving a Hyundai car which was registered to the deceased, Mr Girvan.

“To progress their inquires, police called at his home at about 8.45am to speak to him but got no answer. They returned to his home again at 3pm but there was still no sign of Mr Girvan.

“Separately, at around 10.45 am on the same date in the Lisburn Road area, police arrested you (Henderson-McCarroll) over an unrelated matter.

“You were eventually taken to Musgrave police station. At the same a number of items were discovered in your possession which included a satellite navigation system and a key belonging to a Hyundai car. When police checked the sat nav system it showed the home address of 162 Station Road, which was Mr Girvan’s home.”

Concerned for his safety

The court heard that because police could not make contact with Mr Girvan, officers were concerned for his safety and went back to his house for a third time and forced entry.

The judge continued: “There they found the dead body of Mr Girvan bound, gagged and seated in a room on the ground floor. Photographs taken at the time showed clearly where he was and the state he was in.”

Mr Justice Treacy said that Mr Girvan had sustained two stab wounds to his body – one wound was to upper right chest area measuring 10 centimetres in depth which had “punctured his lung causing high bleeding into the lung” and which alone “could have resulted in death”.

The second stab injury was to the lower right part of his chest, 3½ cm in depth, which penetrated the skin and soft tissue but “caused no vital damage”.

“Neither stab would have required any great force. The deceased had a large wad of kitchen roll stuffed into his mouth and he had been gagged with a tie. This too, of itself, could have resulted in death.”