Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

'Body in bog' killer ordered to serve 16 years

Best Christmas present, says victim's sister

A MAN convicted for the second time of the 'body in the bog' murder today became the first killer to be told how much of his life sentence he must serve before being considered for release.

A MAN convicted for the second time of the 'body in the bog' murder today became the first killer to be told how much of his life sentence he must serve before being considered for release.

Lisburn man James Shaw was found guilty at Craigavon Crown Court on October 26 this year of the murder of Timothy Sullivan - 18 days after the Life Sentence (NI) Order came into effect, stipulating that the trial judge must set a tariff for the time to be spent in prison.

The disappearance of 21-year-old Sullivan in August 1995 remained a mystery for some time.

The skeletal remains were found submerged in bogland in Derriaghy in 1996, but initially were thought to be those of a middle-aged woman.

The body was not identified until two years later when a confession by an inmate at a young offenders' centre revealed it to be that of Mr Sullivan.

This morning Shaw, 25, of Dromara Park, was sentenced to life imprisonment and told he would not be considered for release for 16 years.

Mr Justice Sheil said the case fell into the higher tariff because it was a planned and cold blooded murder of a young man merely because he had admitted to police his and the defendant's part in a robbery.

"You lured him to his death, used a hammer to murder him, and having done so you stripped him and trampled his body into marshy ground," the judge said.

"An aggravating feature is that you have boasted to others that you carried out this dreadful crime and even brought others to show them where you carried it out and where you left the body".

Shaw was originally convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder in 2000, but a re-trial was later ordered by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Sullivan's sister, Zara Cunningham, today said her family had been given the "best Christmas present ever".

The 26-year-old mother of two, who branded Shaw "an evil scumbag", said today's verdict would put an end to the family's six-year nightmare.

"It's been a long and emotional six years, but it's completely over now," she said.

"Justice has been definitely done and we know he can't appeal again," said Mrs Cunningham after the Craigavon Crown Court hearing in Belfast.

A tearful Mrs Cunningham also expressed her gratitude and thanks to the police and prosecuting authorities for their support and handling of the case.

"The police have given us a lot of support, and the lawyers, in particular Stephen Fowler, have done a magnificent job," she said.

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