Belfast Telegraph

Duo get life for savage killing of disabled man whose body was 'dumped like a piece of rubbish'

Victim's family tell of agony over son's loss and the suffering he endured

By Ashleigh McDonald

The father of a disabled man subjected to a "savage and merciless attack" before being dumped in a wheelie bin has told of his family's heartbreak.

Stephen Hughes and Shaunean Boyle were yesterday jailed for a combined 29 years for the murder of Owen Creaney in July 2014.

Mr Creaney, from Lurgan, died two days after being brutally beaten. His father Jim said his son "thought he was with his friends, but these people turned out to be his killers".

He was speaking after Hughes and Boyle were told they will spend 29 years in prison between them before being considered for parole.

They were found guilty by a jury of murdering Mr Creaney following a five-week trial earlier this year.

They were handed life sentences by Mr Justice Treacy.

Yesterday Hughes (30) was told he will serve a minimum of 15 years before being considered eligible for release. Boyle (25) was handed a minimum 14-year term.

Hughes showed no emotion as sentence was passed. Boyle wept.

The judge told them the sentences would not be subject to remission, and they will both serve the full minimum terms before they can apply to the Parole Commission for release.

Branding the attack on Mr Creaney as "savage and merciless", the judge spoke of the devastating impact the murder has had on the victim's family.

The pair were branded "cowardly bullies" by Mr Creaney's mother Teresa, who said her heart had been ripped apart by the loss of "our wee Owen" and the circumstances in which he died.

Later, speaking outside Laganside Court, Jim Creaney said: "The loss of such a wonderful son has left us heartbroken.

"Owen wouldn't hurt anyone. Owen was a kind soul and didn't deserve what happened to him.

"Owen will be sadly missed by his immediate family. He is in our thoughts every day. We miss him very much.

"We would like to thank the police, the Public Prosecution Service and everyone involved in this case for all their help.

"We would also like to thank our relations and friends for all their kind words and prayers. They are all very much appreciated."

Mr Creaney was brutally beaten in the hallway of Hughes's Moyraverty Court home in Craigavon in the early hours of July 3, 2014. Hughes and Boyle then carried their blood and urine-soaked victim upstairs where he was showered, dressed in fresh clothes and placed on a sofa in a bedroom.

He never regained consciousness, but lived for around two days before dying from his injuries. His body was then dumped in a green wheelie bin, with waste items placed on top of his remains.

During yesterday's sentencing Mr Justice Treacy said that due to the nature of his injuries and without medical attention, Mr Creaney "must have been in very considerable pain and suffering" prior to passing away.

He also spoke of the degradation he endured after being attacked while defenceless.

A victim impact statement made by Mrs Creaney said she will never get over her son's murder. She also said that Owen's twin sister Shirley "died of a broken heart" a year after her brother's killing.

She described as "horrendous" the five-week trial, where she heard about "the exact suffering" inflicted on her son. She recalled hearing "what they did to Owen, how they did it, and how he lay for two days without any form of medical attention before being callously thrown in to a wheelie bin, like a piece of rubbish. That was our son, who we loved. Our lives will never be the same again," she added.

Hughes, whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry, and co-accused Boyle, from Edenderry Park in Banbridge, both admitted being present when Mr Creaney was viciously attacked. However, both initially blamed each other for the violence.

Mr Creaney's injuries included 15 fractured ribs and a broken breastbone, as well as bleeding of and tearing to the brain.

The pair were due to be sentenced last week, but in a shock move Hughes's barrister said that despite his client having denied attacking Mr Creaney since July 2014, he was now admitting his guilt.

Barrister Peter Irvine said the last-minute confession should indicate remorse for what Hughes described as a "moment of madness" that resulted in his friend losing his life.

During the trial the jury heard from several witnesses who visited Hughes's home while Mr Creaney lay dying upstairs.

When one neighbour questioned the pair about the man lying in the bedroom, they were told he was a "wee alco" who was sleeping off a hangover. One friend who saw Mr Creaney told Boyle that he needed medical attention. She later informed a relative about what she had seen, who in turn contacted the PSNI.

When police arrived at Hughes's home they noticed all the windows were open. The walls under the stairs had been painted to cover Mr Creaney's spattered blood, while other areas had been bleached and cleaned.

When the pair were arrested it was Boyle who told police to "look in the bin", where Mr Creaney's remains were found.

Yesterday the court heard how the Creaney family was trying to come to terms with the murder.

Mrs Creaney said her son celebrated his 40th birthday just six days before he was killed.

Describing him in her statement as a "victim with no voice", she said "wee Owen... didn't have a bad bone in his body".

She still doesn't know why her son was killed, she said, adding that Hughes and Boyle had no right to act as "judge, jury and executioner".

She said her son was "kind, thoughtful and wouldn't hurt anyone... unlike his killers. Even when he was being attacked, he didn't fight back."

Describing her seven stone, disabled son as "easy prey" for Hughes and Boyle, Mrs Creaney said the lies told by the pair had added to the family's heartache.

She said: "I hope that every day they live with the consequences of their actions."

The Lurgan woman also revealed in her victim impact statement that after coming home every night from the trial, her heart was ripped apart at hearing details of how he died.

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