A killer who stabbed his childhood friend 21 times before attending a street party to celebrate the royal wedding of William and Kate has been told he will serve at least 13 years in jail.
Robert Scott (35) later told authorities he held back from confessing to the savage drunken murder of his next door neighbour Richard Hicking because: "There's always this part of you thinks you can get away it."
On Friday Mr Justice McCloskey told Scott, who murdered his 31-year-old friend in his Clarawood Park flat, in east Belfast, had he admitted his guilt earlier, his sentence would have been less.
Mr Hicking was found dead in April 2011 in his flat just across the hallway from that of his lifelong friend, Scott. He had stabbed him 14 times in the chest, six times in the side and once in his back.
Mr Justice McCloskey said despite Scott's initial denials to police, forensic evidence proved damning with incriminating traces of blood uncovered in his flat and on his dark blue Northern Ireland tracksuit that he had been wearing that fateful evening, and a purple rug of Scott's that had been hidden in his wardrobe.
The judge said that "for whatever reason", Scott had "mounted a savage attack with a knife on the deceased, stabbing him many times, and killing him by a stab wound penetrating his heart".
An earlier hearing heard that after the killing Scott was seen behaving normally at a street party celebrating the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. However, the absence of his friend Mr Hicking, who was to have been a volunteer at the party, did not go unnoticed.
His girlfriend contacted police when Scott claimed he had not seen his friend for over two days.
Although he maintained his innocence, in the end Scott confessed to the "appalling and savage murder", telling a prison chaplain he wished to "spare two families (his own and the victim's) a great deal of pain... from any trial".
Richard Hicking's wheelchair-bound mother Jacqueline said while the sentence "was a bit short", she felt "justice has been done" and although "time will heal", she will "never forgive him" for murdering her son. However, she had forgiven Scott's mother and family, who had not approached her until he pleaded guilty on the day of his trial.