A man appeared be-fore Belfast Mag-istrates Court

yesterday charged with murdering a 66-year-old woman nearly 19 years ago.

William Stevenson (43), of Ballygally, Co Antrim, was accused of murdering Elizabeth Smith, who was battered to death in her flat in Dunmurry, on the outskirts of south Belfast, in October 1988.

A detective inspector said he believed he could connect Mr Stevenson to the charge.

Cross-examined by solicitor Michael Madden, defending, the officer confirmed that Mr Stevenson had been interviewed in 1988 about the killing and had denied having anything to do with it.

“He had never tried to escape the jurisdiction and he hotly denies this charge,” Mr Madden said.

Ms Smith was strangled to death after being viciously beaten.

Her flat at Moveen House was also ransacked.

The pensioner was a devout Christian.

Her body was only discovered when a clergyman went to check on her after she failed to take her place in the choir at Lowe Presbyterian Church.

The court heard that Ms Smith had devoted her life to charity work.

Resident Magistrate Ken Nixon remanded Mr Steven-son in custody until August 8.