A teenage killer who beat a father-of-eight to death following a row over a cigarette has been told he will find out next week the minimum term he will spend behind bars.
Adjourning handing down the minimum life tariff to 19-year-old Gerard Connors at Belfast Crown Court, Mr Justice Hart said he wanted to reflect upon the statements made by the widow and seven of the children of Seamus Fox, as well as the official guidelines on sentencing.
Earlier the judge watched CCTV footage, taken from Woodbourne PSNI station, which showed the violence suffered by 58-year-old Mr Fox as he walked home across wasteground in the early hours of April 27 last year.
Prosecution QC Ciaran Murphy told the court the footage, with Connors wearing a white top which appeared to almost glow in the grainy footage, showed the teenager landing “at least 12 violent downward blows” either kicks, stamps or punches, to the defenceless Mr Fox.
He had been watching a football match that evening with friends but had the misfortune to encounter Connors, described as “being off his head” by witnesses at a house party he tried to crash.
The lawyer said it appeared that Connors had been “pestering” Mr Fox for a cigarette before lashing out at him, causing massive head and facial injuries.
Mr Murphy told the court that deputy State Pathologist Dr Peter Ingram found that Mr Fox had sustained a broken nose, fractured eye sockets, both lower and upper jaws had sustained multiple fractures, bones in his voice box had been broken and both cheek bones were also fractured.
These injuries, said the lawyer, would have caused massive bleeding down Mr Fox's windpipe causing breathing difficulties which were exacerbated by his broken voicebox, which caused his death.
Paramedics called to the scene were unable to save his life and he was pronounced dead at hospital.
Connors, from Glenveagh Drive in Belfast, handed himself into police the following day and while he admitted during tearful police interviews that he had attacked Mr Fox, did not plead guilty to his murder until the day his trial was scheduled to start last month.
Mr Murphy told the court that whatever occurred that night, Mr Fox was subjected to a “merciless attack” when he was defenceless.
Defence QC Brian McCartney said there was clear evidence of “remorse and deep regret at his actions” on the part of Connors.