A woman jailed for murdering a disabled man and dumping his body in a wheelie bin has failed in a bid to clear her name.
Shaunean Boyle’s lawyers claimed issues around bad character evidence and a co-accused’s perjured account at trial meant her conviction for killing Owen Creaney in Co Armagh three years ago was unsafe.
But the Court of Appeal in Belfast upheld the guilty verdict after dismissing all grounds of challenge, including submissions that it had been unfair to introduce details of her previous drink-fuelled offences.
Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan said: “The passage of time is modest and the list of convictions demonstrated a clear tendency to resort to violence, associated with the consumption of considerable quantities of alcohol.”
Mr Creaney, a vulnerable 40-year-old, died two days after being beaten repeatedly at a house in Craigavon in July 2014.
His body was then put into a green recycling bin and discovered later by police.
Last year Boyle, 26, and her 30-year-old co-accused Stephen Hughes were both found guilty of his murder.
During their trial the jury heard Mr Creaney had been punched, kicked and stamped on at Hughes’ Moyraverty Court home.
He sustained more than 60 injuries, including a broken breastbone, 15 fractures to his ribs and bleeding to the brain in what was described as a “savage and merciless attack”.
Following the assault the victim was washed and changed, before being left on a bedroom sofa until he succumbed to his injuries.
Boyle, a mother-of-one from Edenderry Park in Banbridge, and Hughes admitted being in the house with Mr Creaney, but both denied attacking him and instead blamed each other for the violence.
Hughes claimed he witnessed Boyle stamp all over Mr Creaney and that he tried to stop the attack.
Boyle, however, alleged that her co-defendant alone carried out the assault using his fists and feet.
She also claimed to have taken a dumbbell and knife off him during the incident.
But the prosecution maintained that the pair attacked Mr Creaney together, then attempted a cover-up by painting blood-splattered walls and mopping blood from the floor.
In December 2016 Boyle was jailed for a minimum 14 years for the murder, while Boyle was ordered to spend at least 15 years behind bars.
Her legal team mounted a wide-ranging challenging to the conviction, claiming there had been flaws in how the bad character evidence was handled during a so-called “cut throat” trial where each defendant blamed the other.
They also raised points about whether a nose injury was inflicted before the victim died.
Stressing that it had been a circumstantial case, counsel argued there were reasons why Boyle lied by telling a close friend she had jumped on Mr Creaney.
It was contended that she thought it would mean more chance of securing medical help.
Prosecutors countered by describing her as a “conniving, cunning and devious witness”.
Appeal judges were told Boyle was prepared to try to lie her way out of trouble.
As Boyle listened via a prison video-link, Sir Declan confirmed her bid to overturn her conviction had failed.
He said: “We refuse the renewed applications for leave and the applications to pursue further grounds and introduce fresh evidence. The appeal is dismissed.”