Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Man accused of murdering pensioner Norman Moffatt confessed to his killing, trial told

Murdered: Norman Moffatt (73)
Murdered: Norman Moffatt (73)

The man accused of murdering a pensioner as he walked home after collecting his morning paper 12 years ago allegedly confessed the crime to several people, a court has been told.

Norman Moffatt was stabbed in the stomach in Coleraine on January 26, 2001, and died from the injury in hospital two months later.

A prosecution lawyer told the opening of the Antrim Crown Court murder trial that he believed the confession would prove James Alexander McCook stabbed the 73-year-old.

McCook (43), of Stonemill Terrace, Stockport, but originally from the Coleraine area, denies murder.

In his opening remarks, prosecution barrister Richard Weir QC said the court would hear from Mrs Martha Brown, whose parents had fostered McCook as a youth.

He said she bumped into McCook after a night out in Portrush and that they were chatting in the early hours of the morning. “He told her he stabbed Mr Moffatt and disposed of his trainers,” the barrister said.

Mr Weir said that in a later conversation with a neighbour in Stockport, McCook said: “No-one will like me because I stabbed someone in Ireland.”

On another occasion, the court heard he allegedly said: “You do not know what is going on in my head. I have killed someone.”

Mr Weir said that throughout police interviews McCook said that he had nothing to do with the murder, which took place on the corner of Railway Road and Circular Road in Coleraine.

Mr Weir said Mr Moffatt had arrived as usual at the Kingsgate Newsagents in Coleraine shortly after 6am on the day he was attacked.

“He was a man who rose early every morning and it was a habit to walk to the nearby newsagent,” said Mr Weir. “This morning was no different.”

Mr Weir said that on this occasion one of Mr Moffatt’s newspapers was late so he stayed to chat to newsagent, Gilmore Harkness, before heading the short distance to his home on the Circular Road.

Less than an hour later, Mr Moffatt's daughter Norma, who lived in the house, found him distressed in a living-room armchair with a blood-soaked anorak on the floor beside him.

He asked her to call a doctor.

Transferred to the Ulster Hospital, Mr Moffatt required emergency surgery on the single stab wound and spent time in intensive care before he died on March 19, 2001.

Mr Harkness, thought to be the last person to speak to the victim before the attack, said Mr Moffatt came into his shop as usual that morning.

“His Sun newspaper failed to be delivered,” he said. “He waited for a while, probably for about 10 minutes. We just talked about football, we were football fanatics,”

Mr Harkness said there was “nothing at all” strange about Mr Moffatt's visit that day.

“He was just as he was any other morning,” he said.

The case will continue to be heard before the jury of six men and six women on Monday.

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