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'Jealous' man who murdered former boxer Magee's son says sorry

By Ashleigh McDonald

A Turkish man who carried out an "unprovoked" and "brutal" attack which claimed the life of a promising young boxer was motivated by jealousy and anger, a court has been told.

As details surrounding the murder of Eamonn Magee Junior emerged for the first time yesterday, Belfast Crown Court heard it was the Crown's case that the fatal attack started in the back yard of a house in Summerhill Park in west Belfast, before continuing onto the street.

Mr Magee - an engineering student and part-time personal trainer - was stabbed six times as he went to check on a pizza delivery being made to his girlfriend's house.

As the 22-year old walked out of the back of Courtney Ward's Twinbrook home, he was attacked by Orhan Koca, who is Ms Ward's former husband and the father of her three children.

While it is the Crown's case that Koca used a knife from the bar where he worked to stab Mr Magee, he told probation that he inflicted the fatal wounds with a pair of broken shears he found lying in the back yard of his former home.

Koca, who is 34 and who at the time of the murder was effectively homeless, initially denied killing the man his ex-wife was in a new relationship with.

However, the court heard yesterday that as Mr Magee went to check where the pizza delivery was at around 2.30am on May 30, 2015, he was stabbed repeatedly and killed by Koca, who had just finished a shift in a nearby bar.

Crown prosecutor Charles MacCreanor QC said Mr Magee sustained six stab wounds - two of which were fatal.

Mr Magee's blood was found on a child's slide in the back yard and on a gate. His blood-soaked glasses were later located lying at the bottom of the gate, while there was also blood on his mobile, also found outside.

In addition, Mr Magee's blood was found on a car parked out on the street and along the route from the back yard to the kerb, where he fell and was discovered by Ms Ward.

Despite being rushed to hospital, the promising young boxer died from the wounds he sustained in the unprovoked attack.

Telling the court it was the Crown's case that Mr Magee was murdered "because of his connection to and relationship with Courtney Ward". Mr MacCreanor said Koca was "motivated by jealousy and was very possessive of his wife ... he was an aggressive man in that context".

Mr MacCreanor said Koca and Ms Ward had been married, that the relationship broke down in late 2014 and that by March/April 2015 Koca had moved out of the family home.

Ms Ward joined the gym where Mr Magee worked around January 2015 and by April of that year, they were in a relationship.

The prosecutor said that prior to murdering Mr Magee, Koca had spoken to a friend about his ex-wife's new relationship with a "boxer called Magee".

Koca also had pictures on his phone of Ms Ward and Mr Magee which he had taken from her Facebook page.

In a subsequent statement she made, Ms Ward said Koca was a jealous man who accused her of having affairs.

On May 29, Ms Ward and Koca had a conversation during which she said he questioned her about Mr Magee.

She said: "I told Orhan I didn't love him any more, that I was in love with someone else. He asked who it was, but I didn't tell him."

Ms Ward also stated she felt she was being stalked by her ex-husband, and that he told her he would be "watching the house".

In the early hours of the following morning, Koca stabbed Mr Magee to death.

After murdering Mr Magee, Koca returned to the bar where he worked and where he sometimes slept, and placed his blood-soaked jeans beside a cooler. They were later recovered by police investigating the murder.

Mr MacCreanor concluded by saying it was "plain to see the suffering and difficulties" faced by Mr Magee's family in the wake of his murder. The victim's mother, father and other relatives sat in the public gallery and heard defence barrister Arthur Harvey QC pay tribute to the dignity they have displayed in the wake of the murder.

Mr Harvey, representing Koca, said his client's plea was "motivated by a recognition of the undoubted overwhelming tragedy he had visited upon the family of Mr Magee".

The barrister said it was also recognised that instead of the Magee family "watching a young life grow to full fruition and development ... that void will be filled with eternal grief and their suffering".

Setting out his client's background, Mr Harvey said Koca came to Northern Ireland from Turkey, and that he and Ms Ward married in 2010. Describing his client as a "hard-working family man", Mr Harvey said Koca was traumatised by the breakdown of his marriage, but continued seeing his three children on a daily basis.

The barrister told Mr Justice Treacy that at the time of the murder Koca was "to all intents and purposes, homeless".

Mr Harvey said Koca was "heartbroken" when he saw the Facebook pictures of Mr Ward with Mr Magee.

Regarding the murder, Mr Harvey said Koca went to his old home and it was "inconceivable he could have known that Mr Magee would be outside ... awaiting a pizza delivery at 2am", adding it was "an alignment of random chance factors" which resulted in the stabbing.

Mr Harvey refuted the Crown's claims that Koca had armed himself with a knife from the bar which he then used to kill Mr Magee - saying "knives go missing from kitchens, especially if they are good knives" - and reiterated Koca's claim that he found a pair of broken shears in the back yard.

Mr Harvey also told the court Koca had no previous convictions either in Northern Ireland or Turkey, felt isolated in prison and was a man with "moderately impaired" intellectual ability.

After listening to submissions from the Crown and defence, Mr Justice Treacy said he would fix the tariff next Friday, when Koca will be informed how many years he will spend in prison before being considered eligible for release.

As he was being led from the dock, Koca turned to face Mr Magee's family and said "I'm sorry for your loss".

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