Man on trial for 1987 murder of Kilkenny widow

John Joseph Malone of Newpark in Kilkenny is accused of strangling 69-year-old Ann Nancy Smyth before setting her house on fire

A man has gone on trial for the murder of a widow who was killed in her home in Kilkenny City in 1987.

John Joseph Malone of Newpark in Kilkenny is accused of strangling 69-year-old Ann Nancy Smyth  before setting her house on fire.

The investigation into her death was reopened eighteen years later after somebody came forward with information.

Sean Gillane, who is prosecuting on behalf of the DPP, told the jury in his opening address that this was a cold case.

It goes back 30 years to a time when Nancy Smyth was 69 and living on her own in a small detached house on Wolfe Tone Street in Kilkenny City.

Her husband died the year before and while she was lonely without him, Mr. Gillane said she was still very sociable and well known in the community.

On the evening of September 10th 1987, she went for a few drinks in her local pub. The owner dropped her home afterwards.

A passerby saw smoke billowing from her house a few hours later and the fire brigade arrived just after 5am.

Inside, they found Mrs. Smyth lying on the floor next to her sofa.

It was initially thought she died in a tragic domestic fire, but a post-mortem revealed injuries to her neck consistent with being strangled. She also suffered trauma to the head.

Mr. Gillane told the jurors they would hear from neighbours who heard a man believed to be John Joseph Malone shouting outside her house that night.

The investigation ran into the sand, he said - but it was reopened in 2005 when a person came forward with information.

A public appeal was made in 2012 and several witnesses came forward including several who will claim the accused told them he had killed her.

Mr. Gillane said they would also hear evidence of conversations he had with his brother on the matter.

He said it is the prosecution’s case that Mr. Malone was the man shouting on the street that night and that he did get into her home where he strangled her and set her house on fire before subsequently admitting his guilt.