Belfast man Albert Armstrong given 14-year minimum jail term for samurai sword murders of Colin 'Bap' Lindsay and Stanley Wightman
A Belfast man was told he will have to spend a minimum of 14 years in prison without parole for the sword murders of two men, including a leading UDA figure.
Albert Armstrong (47) admitted killing Colin 'Bap' Lindsay, 47, and Stanley Wightman, 52 in an attack in July last year.
Both men were found in the blood soaked living room of Mr Lindsay's Kirkiston Walk bungalow in the Belvoir estate.
They were said to have suffered severe wounds inflicted by a Samurai sword. Mr Lindsay was almost decapitated and Mr Wightman nearly had a hand severed off in the attack.
Passing a tariff sentence on Friday, Mr Justice Treacy said the two victims had died as a result of "catastrophic injuries following an altercation''.
He told the court the men, who had been drinking with Armstrong all day, sustained "multiple incisive wounds to the neck which had been carried out with considerable force with a Samurai sword''.
Mr Lindsay, a father of two, was pronounced dead at the scene on July 8, 2015 and Mr Wightman died two days later from his injuries.
Last month father-of-five Armstrong, of Grays Park, Ballylenaghan Upper, Belfast, was handed down a life sentence by Mr Justice Treacy.
At that hearing, the prosecution had described the deaths of the deceased as “two very violent and brutal killings".
Armstrong lived with his partner in Belvoir at the time and was known in the local area as a bit of a handyman.
Neil Connor QC, prosecuting, said that on the day of the murder Mr Lindsay had been in contact with Armstrong asking him to fix a smoke alarm in his house, prompting Armstrong to drive the short distance to Mr Lindsay’s home.
A trip to the off licence was made and the three men then drank a “considerable quantity of both beer and vodka” in Mr Lindsay’s house.
Armstrong returned to the off licence at around 5pm, where he bought more beer.
Just over two hours later, Armstrong arrived back at his partner’s house in his Mazda car.
She could tell he had been drinking, and also noticed he had blood on his hand and forehead. She also saw a blood-stained sword in the passenger footwell of the car, wrapped in a pair of black jeans.
When she asked Armstrong what had happened, he told her he had killed two people, the court heard.
He told her: “I have killed 'Bap' Lindsay and Stanley. Nobody is going to f*** me over again”, the court was told.
Armstrong claimed that whilst they were all drinking Mr Lindsay lifted a hatchet and started waving it about.
He also claimed that he was struck by Mr Lindsay, and that Mr Lindsay had a knife which he took off him.
Mr Connor revealed that Armstrong asked his partner to help gather his clothes which he was going to burn in the back garden - but that never occurred as the police arrived and arrested Armstrong at 8.10pm.
Police were initially unable to enter Mr Lindsay's property at 8.19pm but an officer saw one stricken man in the front room.
They eventually entered the house at 8.30pm and whilst a clearly deceased Mr Lindsay was on the sofa, the severely injured Mr Wightman was found "lying in a pool of his own blood'' on the living room floor.
Despite being rushed to hospital, Mr Wightman died two days after the attack from the wounds to his head and neck. His right hand was almost severed at the wrist as he tried to defend himself.
The prosecutor said that post mortems conducted on both victims concluded they died from multiple wounds to the neck, adding: "The weapon must have been wielded with some considerable force”.
Mr Connor also said “what happened to one deceased was then replicated in respect of the other, with very great similarity”.
After his arrest, Armstrong initially denied involvement, making the case that prior to the double murder he had been abstinent from alcohol for a period, but that he had drunk ten tins of beer the day before the incident.
He stated that on July 8, he had taken Mr Wightman to the off licence, that all three of them had consumed alcohol and that he went back out later that day to get drink.
Armstrong claimed that he returned from the second trip Mr Lindsay pulled a hatchet out and swung a sword at him.
He said “both of them were at me”, and that in the struggle he lashed out and he couldn’t remember how many times he hit both of them.
Mr Connor said that given the injuries there was a “clear intention to kill” both men, and that Armstrong himself had no wounds.
He also told the court: “While he (Armstrong) accepts inflicting the injuries, he doesn’t really provide any explanation as to why he did that.''
The court also heard Mr Lindsay described as being a vulnerable man due to a disability he sustained as a result of a previous beating he sustained.
Defence barrister Gavan Duffy QC, representing Armstrong, described the double killing as “something which was completely out of character and very unexpected”.
The barrister said that on the day in question, his client had simply gone to fix an alarm - but that all three men ended up “heavily intoxicated” and that a dispute of some kind erupted which resulted in an altercation.
Armstrong, dressed in a dark grey suit, shirt and tie, returned to Belfast Crown Court on Friday for a tariff hearing on how long he would spend in prison for the double murder without remission.
The judge said Armstrong had not given a clear reason about "how the altercation had started'' or why he had inflicted such "catastrophic injuries'' on his two victims.
He said that it was clear from the post mortem examinations both Mr Lindsay and Mr Wightman had also sustained "injuries to their arms and hands which were indicative of defensive wounds''.
Taking a number of aggravating factors into consideration, Mr Justice Treacy said he would move his starting point of sentence from 14 years to 20 years.
But the judge said that, despite being urged by the prosecution, he did not consider the "consumption of alcohol should not be treated as an aggravating factor'' in his sentencing.
He told the court that in deciding the appropriate tariff he was taking into consideration a number of mitigating factors.
These included Armstrong's guilty pleas to both murders. He added: "There was no pre-meditation or no significant element of pre-meditation and it was accepted by the prosecution that the offences were "spontaneous''.
Other mitigating factors the judge took into account were that Armstrong had no previous history of violence and his age.
But Mr Justice Treacy he did not think Armstrong's personal circumstance carried sufficient weight to adjust his sentencing.
The judge said that in considering his sentence, he had also taken into account the "moving impact statements of the families of both deceased men''.
"I determine the appropriate sentence before you could be released, if ever by the Parole Commissioners, is one of 14 years.
"I want to make it clear to you, to the members of the press and the general public, that this the minimum sentence and it is to be served without any remission and you will have to serve it in its entirety,'' added Mr Justice Treacy.
As Armstrong was being led away in handcuffs to start his sentence, there was uproar in the public gallery from grieving relatives of the two murder victims, some of whom hurled abuse him.
One woman shouted at Armstrong through the glass partition: "I hope you rot in hell. You're a murderer, you're a monster. You are a gutless, evil monster.''