Man charged with murdering woman in Mayo

A 22-year-old man appeared at a special court sitting yesterday charged with the murder of 28-year-old Sarah Staunton at her home near Balla, Co Mayo over the weekend.

Ray Gralton, with an address at Mount Prospect, Co Roscommon, showed no emotion during his brief appearance before Judge Mary Devins at a special sitting of Ballina District Court.

Det Sgt Gary Walsh gave evidence of arresting the accused at 10am today at Castlebararda Station.

Mr Gralton made no reply to the charge of murder after caution, the garda said.

Supt Pat Diskin told the court his application was for a remand in custody to Harristown Court (Castlerea Prison) on Friday next at 10.30am.

Gary Mulchrone, solicitor, said that free legal aid would be applied for in respect of the defendant in due course.

Mr Mulchrone requested that Mr Gralton receive appropriate medical attention in prison.

The solicitor explained that a doctor visited the accused on Sunday and prescribed painkillers for a pre-existing injury.

Judge Devins said that the request was a matter for the prison governor to deal with.

The red-haired defendant, who was wearing an orange hooded top, stood with his hands behind his back during the short hearing.

He showed absolutely no emotion during the proceedings before being led away to start his journey in an unmarked Garda car to Castlerea Prison.

A man believed to be the father of the accused was in court for yesterday’s hearing.

A full-scale murder investigation was launched by gardaí on Sunday afternoon after an autopsy at Mayo General Hospital showed that mother of two Ms Staunton had been physically assaulted before her death.

Mr Gralton’s arrest in the Castlebar area on Saturday followed the discovery of the victim’s body in the bungalow where she lived at Portagh, Mayo Abbey.

It is understood the dead woman’s children — a boy and a girl aged 12 and 10 respectively — were not with her at the time of the incidents which led to her death. They were in the care of their father at the time, Ms Staunton’s former partner.

Gardaí have set up an incident room at Castlebar station and anybody with information pertinent to the ongoing investigation is asked to contact it on 094 22222.

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