A killer robber was caught by police after his ex-wife secretly recorded him confessing to his involvement in a brutal attack on a Co Armagh farmer.
As Peter Joseph Maloney was jailed for 13 years yesterday for killing dairy farmer Victor Stewart during a burglary at his home, the PSNI vowed to continue their hunt for other gang members who have so far evaded capture.
Maloney (24) was part of a four-man gang who beat Mr Stewart to death at his isolated farm on the Creevekeeran Road in Middletown in October 2008.
The gang left the 45-year-old unmarried farmer to die and fled with a safe from the house.
At Newry Crown Court yesterday, Judge Kevin Finnegan QC sentenced Maloney, from Drumarg Park in Armagh, to 13 years imprisonment for manslaughter.
Mr Stewart’s family last night said that no words could describe the “physical and emotional impact” they have suffered because of Victor’s death.
“This has left us all with a life sentence. We will miss and love him forever,” the family said in an emotional statement.
They also touchingly described Mr Stewart as “one of the most caring, generous, modest, decent and hard-working people that you would ever have the privilege to meet.”
The family said that on the night he was killed Mr Stewart would have just finished working a 13-hour day on his farm.
“He never dreamt whilst resting that anyone would or could be evil enough to violate his world and take his life,” the family added.
Police were tipped off about Maloney’s involvement in Mr Stewart’s death by his estranged wife.
To assist police, she secretly recorded him as he confessed to his part in the raid at Mr Stewart’s home.
Maloney had originally been the getaway driver, but helped to ransack Mr Stewart’s home and was present when he was viciously beaten.
The officer in charge of the police investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Gareth Talbot, warned the other gang members who had been involved that they should “take no comfort in, so far, being able to evade justice”.
He added: “One individual has been sentenced, but this criminal did not act alone.
“Police believe as many as three other people took part in the robbery and brutal attack on Victor.
“Police believe that others know what happened and who was involved.”
He added that the investigation will continue and asked those with information to search their conscience and come forward.
The police officer described Mr Stewart as “an innocent victim and a much-loved brother, uncle and friend”.
He added: “His relative isolation at his home on Creevekeeran Road and his perceived wealth made him a target for a gang of robbers who, motivated by greed, ended up taking his life.”