Northern Ireland

Gary Baird: Heartbroken family welcomes jail term for man who beat wife to death with hammer

Susan Baird died from catastrophic head injures in her south Belfast home in 2020

Alan Lewis-       22-1-2024
Mrs Susan Baird.
Mrs Baird’s  body was discovered at a house in a cul-de-sac on Windermere.Road near Carryduff, County Down on 17th August 2020.   
Today, (Monday), at Belfast Crown Court, Gary Baird went on trial accused of the murder of his 60 year-old wife Susan in the matrimonial home.
Court Copy by Ashleigh McDonald via AM News
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( Social Media Sourced Picture )
Susan Baird’s body was discovered at a house in a cul-de-sac on Windermere.Road near Carryduff, County Down on 17th August 2020 (Alan Lewis - Photopress Belfast/Photopress Belfast)

The four children of a woman beaten to death with a hammer by her husband have said they welcome and accept the verdict after their father was jailed.

Former security guard Gary Alexander Baird was handed a seven-year sentence.

He pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his wife Susan Baird on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The 60-year old mother-of-four died from catastrophic head injures in the couple’s Windermere Road home in the Four Winds area of Belfast on the afternoon of Sunday August 16 2020.

As he imposed the sentence upon Baird at Belfast Crown Court, Mr Justice McFarland told the 65-year old the term was divided between three years in prison followed by four years on licence.

Due to time that Baird has already spent on remand, he will be released from prison later this year.

As the couple’s four children sat in the public gallery, Baird showed no emotion as the senior judge said: “This was a vicious and brutal attack against his wife of nearly 40 years, with a hammer.”

Mr Justice McFarland said he read “moving” victim impact statements made by Mrs Baird’s children, brother and sister.

He said: “Each statement in its own way spoke eloquently about the devastation caused by the death, about the loss suffered by the sister, brother and children as individuals and also the loss suffered by members of the wider family.

“For everyone this has been a deeply emotional experience, particularly for the children knowing that their mother has been killed in such a brutal way by their father.”

Mr Justice McFarland also referenced a statement made by one of Mrs Baird’s children, which said: “On the 16th of August 2020, my Dad killed my Mum.

“This will never get any easier to say from me. I struggle to write it, never mind say it aloud and I still find it extremely hard to believe this is our reality.”

After he was arrested in the aftermath of his wife’s death, Baird was sectioned and spent a period of time detained under the Mental Health Act.

He was then moved to prison and subsequently pleaded guilty to a charge of manslaughter which was not accepted by the Crown.

Baird stood trial earlier this year on a charge of murdering his wife.

The trial commenced in January in front of a jury who heard five days of evidence.

However, as the murder trial was due to enter its second week, a legal issue arose which was dealt with in the absence of the jury.

After making a ruling on the legal issue, trial judge Mr Justice McFarland determined that the jury should be discharged.

The case was listed again in May and on that occasion, Baird pleaded again guilty to a charge of the manslaughter by way of diminished responsibility.

As a result of further medical reports, this plea was accepted by the Crown.

Speaking after the sentence was imposed, the couple’s children issued a statement which said: “As the four children of Susan Baird, we welcome and accept the verdict of manslaughter with diminished responsibility.

“Through our immense heartbreak, we hope to see improvements and better funding in mental health services across Northern Ireland.

“All family members wish to extend their heartfelt thanks to all who have shown kindness, and we ask for privacy as we continue in our grief.”