A Newry man has been jailed for life after pleading guilty to killing a teenager who died from a 17cm deep stab wound to the chest.
David Kennaway, from Kenard Villas in the city, was due to have gone on trial at Downpatrick Crown Court yesterday for the 2011 murder of 18-year-old Paul Owens.
Mr Owens, who was originally from Ardglass, was stabbed as he walked home through Newcastle, Co Down, in the early hours of February 26 last year.
He died later in hospital from a fatal wound to his chest which, a previous court hearing was told, was 17cm deep.
At what was to be the opening of 27-year-old Kennaway’s trial yesterday, there were lengthy discussions involving both defence and prosecution lawyers.
Defence QC Mark Mulholland returned to court in the afternoon and applied to trial judge Mr Justice Stephens for his client to be rearraigned.
When the charge of murder was put to Kennaway, dressed in purple shirt and dark suit, he stood and replied “guilty” while looking straight ahead.
Prosecution QC Frank O’Donaghue told Mr Justice Stephens the new plea had deemed the trial no longer necessary. He said that the offence of murder carried only one sentence, life imprisonment.
Mr O'Donaghue said that he had explained to the teenager's family the need for a future tariff hearing at which the court would decide how long Kennaway must serve of that life sentence.
However, while no details surrounding the stabbing were given to the court, Mr O'Donaghue did hand in a set of agreed facts which also outlined the mitigating and aggravating factors in the case, and the precise time when Kennaway armed himself.
The prosecution lawyer said it was hoped that this ‘matrix' of the case would provide some assistance to the court when it came to imposing Kennaway's tariff and that in those circumstances he did not wish to open the document until then.
Agreeing to the application, Mr Justice Stephens then turned to address Kennaway, telling him that as he had pleaded guilty to murder, he was “obliged” to sentence him to life imprisonment.
Kennaway is the second person awaiting sentence in connection with the murder.
His then girlfriend, 21-year-old Lyndsey Cahoon, of Central Promenade, Newcastle, is to be sentenced on three counts of assisting an offender.
She allegedly gave a false description of the attacker and later was said to have washed Kennaway's clothes and a knife.
At the time, it was reported that Mr Owens — who had survived a stabbing the previous summer — was initially involved in a fracas outside the entrance of Donard car park before he was stabbed in nearby Bryansford Road, Newcastle.