Shirley murderer's sentence appeal fails

Published Friday, 04 May 2012
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A Polish man who battered and strangled a vulnerable young woman has failed in an attempt to have his minimum 20 year sentence reduced.

Shirley murderer's sentence appeal fails
Henryk Gorski, who was convicted of Shirley Finlay's 2006 murder. (© Pacemaker)

The Court of Appeal ruled that Henryk Gorski being on bail for an alleged rape when he murdered 24-year-old Shirley Finlay was correctly treated as an aggravating factor.

Ms Finlay's partially clothed body was found dumped at a car park in Ballymena, Co Antrim in September 2006.

Gorski, 55, was convicted of her murder by a unanimous jury verdict.

The former meat factory worker was linked to the killing by fingerprints found on bin bags used to tie Ms Finlay's body inside a duvet cover connected to his home.

A grey jacket found beside the victim bore traces of DNA from Gorski's former lover.

And a strand of hair matching that of Ms Finlay's was also later recovered from a carpet in his Hill Street flat.

Despite losing his appeal against conviction, he mounted a new challenge to the prison term set for what the trial judge described as a "brutal murder" involving disposal of the body in a way which was "callous in the extreme".

Gorski's lawyers argued that the fact he was out on bail accused of rape - a charge he was ultimately cleared of - at the time of the killing was wrongly held against him during sentencing.

But Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan pointed out the allegation was that Gorski had attacked a woman.

He said: "It seems to us that to commit this offence, which involved the accosting of this young lady... in circumstances where he was on bail for the offence of rape was a matter which the learned trial judge was entitled to take into account as an aggravating factor.

"The approach he has taken to the question of aggravation which led to imposing a tariff of 20 years in this case is one which is neither manifestly excessive nor wrong in principle.

"Accordingly we dismiss the appeal."

© UTV News
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