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Lost and lonely husband who stayed loyal to killer

FOR 10 days, he stood quietly and loyally by his wife's side.

On many occasions, Dublin accountant Richard Durkin watched patiently by her side as Karen Walsh spoke to her legal team.

He was usually dressed in a dark grey suit and white shirt, often standing with his arms folded and fiddling with a twisted gold band on his ring finger.

At times he looked lost, tired, and he must have wondered how his wife had got herself into such a mess.

During the trial, Mr Durkin sat quietly in the public gallery, listening intently. He betrayed no emotion. Even when he heard disturbing evidence of how Karen Walsh picked a crucifix off the wall and bludgeoned their elderly neighbour to death with it.

Even when he heard that Walsh sexually assaulted Maire Rankin with the crucifix in an attempt to cover her tracks. He kept his eyes to the ground when the jury heard Walsh sat on Mrs Rankin, breaking her ribs, and pushed a crucifix with a crown of thorns into her face.

What must he have been thinking?

Richard Durkin slipped away from Belfast Crown Court shortly after the verdict was announced. He went home alone, his wife was taken by prison officers to begin a life sentence for the murder of 81-year-old Mrs Rankin.

For three years he had loyally supported her, travelling up to Belfast at weekends to see her and his son after a judge ruled that Walsh was not to live in Dublin, where he worked.

Pathetic

When his wife's fate was decided, he wasn't even in the public gallery as it had been locked because it was already full. He stood outside with a number of journalists who also could not get in to the court as it was full.

He missed the verdict and his wife's reaction, which was conveyed to him in the landing outside Court No 13 in the Laganside court building.

The extended Rankin family, who turned out in solidarity with the close relatives of the victim, contrasted with the lonely presence of Mr Durkin supporting his wife.

It told a personal story for Karen Walsh that was as pathetic as the overall story of the trial was harrowing and "bizarre", as prosecution barrister, Liam McCollum said a number of times during the trial.

During the trial, reporters heard that the couple have been married for seven years and have a young son, who is now five-years-old.

Mr Durkin is a tax consultant, auditor, chartered accountant and qualified financial adviser. He went to University College Galway, in his wife's home town, but has worked in Dublin for a number of years.

In December 2008, the pair were living in the Berkeley Court Hotel in Dublin during the week and going to their home on Dublin Road in Newry at weekends, "just to get away from Dublin", Walsh told police.

In interviews with police, Karen Walsh said she owned a second property in Newry and her husband owned a house in Dublin.

She said the pair had rented out both of their homes, and been renting in Sandymount but it was cheaper to live in a suite in the 4-star Berkeley Court Hotel. She said they had made a deal with the hotel.