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Two men jailed for murder of man in Ballymena

[Press center4] time:2023-05-30 19:33:01 source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:Press center3 click:126order

Two men have been sentenced for the murder of Donald Harold Fraser-Rennie in 2020.

Samuel Atcheson, 36, of Crebilly Road in Ballymena in County Antrim, was told he will spend a minimum of 16 years in prison.

Steven Arthur Hunter, 32, of Lantara in Ballymena, was jailed for a minimum of 15 years.

Both Atcheson and Hunter had previously pleaded guilty to murdering Mr Fraser-Rennie.

The 33-year-old was murdered in a flat in Ballymena in October 2020.

The judge, Madam Justice McBride, told the court in Belfast that Mr Fraser-Rennie was the victim of an "unmerciful, prolonged and sustained attack''.

Mr Fraser-Rennie was found dead "in a pool of blood' at Atcheson's Crebilly Road flat after police were alerted.

At an earlier hearing in April, Belfast Crown Court was played a 58-second video which recorded part of the attack, during which Hunter threatened to stab Mr Fraser-Rennie.

The court heard a 999 call from Atcheson was received in the early hours of 30 October.

He told a call handler: "We need your assistance at 5D Crebilly Road as soon as possible. A male has been beat up. Believed to be dead.

"It is quite a gory scene. We have literally just arrived on the scene. At the moment all we have is Donald.''

The court heard two police officers arrived at the scene and Mr Fraser-Rennie was found on his back with no pulse.

When police asked Atcheson what happened, he replied: "It was Steven Hunter. He is away to his girlfriend's flat. Hunter put a screwdriver into Donald's face.''

An autopsy recorded that Mr Fraser-Rennie's death was due to "blunt force trauma of the head and chest, with compressions to the neck and acute alcohol intoxication."

It found he had suffered multiple blows to his head which were consistent with him being the victim of a sustained physical assault with punches, kicks, stamps and blows with a weapon.

He had nine fractured ribs and bleeding on his brain.

The court heard there were a number of calls between Atcheson and his then partner which mentioned an "ongoing dispute between him and the deceased, claiming the deceased had stolen money and prescription tablets from Atcheson's flat''.

She told police that Atcheson called her by mobile video, which showed the victim "lying on the floor lifeless".

The court heard Atcheson and Hunter were laughing at the victim and that she saw Hunter kick him in the head and face.

The judge told the court it was "a callous attack, made worse by the disgusting video made by Hunter".

She described the attack as a "savage and merciless prolonged beating".

The judge said both men "brutally humiliated and degraded their victim because they recorded him".

She added: "Each defendant was content to let the victim die."

In sentencing Atcheson and Hunter, she told them she had taken into account "the violence used against the deceased, the fact that the murder was recorded on video and there was evidence to suggest they tried to clean up the scene".

Commenting after the sentencing, Mairead Lavery, a senior prosecutor with the Public Prosecution Service (PPS), said the men had attempted to conceal evidence before they both tried to "blame the other".

She said the PPS worked with the police to build a robust case which involved the recovery of mobile phones records, CCTV footage and forensic evidence.

Det Insp Claire McGarvey said that attack had been brutal and the actions that followed were callous.

"The life of a loving fiancé and father was taken in the most brutal and shocking of attacks, and there are no words that can ease their pain," she added.

(editor-in-charge:Press center9)

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