Woman 'concocted cover-up' after killing

THE elaborate story dreamed up by Susan Christie, a former soldier, to account for the killing of her Army lover's wife showed she had considerable 'residual responsibility' for her actions, an appeal court was told yesterday.

Brian Kerr QC, representing the Attorney General, was urging High Court judges in Belfast to lengthen the five-year jail sentence Christie was given in June for the manslaughter of Penny McAllister. A jury at Downpatrick Crown Court had found her not guilty of murder.

Christie, 24, from Lisburn, Co Antrim, a former UDR Greenfinch, concocted an elaborate cover-up after lashing out with a knife while walking with Mrs McAllister in a darkened stretch of forest in Co Down in March 1991, Mr Kerr said.

At the time, she was suffering emotional stress because of her affair with the victim's husband, Duncan, an officer in the Royal Corps of Signals.

Christie claimed both women were attacked by an unknown assailant and described him to police, right down to the parting in his hair. Mr Kerr said this was a story Christie had persisted with and which indicated a high level of residual responsibility for her actions. She knew she was planning to kill, he said.

Peter Smith QC, for Christie, condemned the 'biased and sensational' reporting of the case by tabloid newspapers.

He told Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Hutton and two other judges that public outcry had been whipped up by newspapers which largely failed to give the medical evidence which led to Christie's acquittal of murder.

Mr Smith said the opinion formed by the public was flawed by newspaper reporting which had given a distorted view of the case. He added that the trial judge, Lord Justice Kelly, had suffered a deeply offensive attack.

He emphasised that Lord Justice Kelly had said he had got the sentence about right. He had recognised there was a considerable degree of residual responsibility and the sentence reflected that. The case was adjourned until tomorrow.