Belfast Telegraph

Knife frenzy killer jailed for life

Accused changes plea and admits stabbing neighbour to death at flats

By Chris Kilpatrick and Paul Higgins

A man who stabbed his neighbour to death has been jailed for life.

Robert Scott (36) had been due to go on trial for the murder of Richard Hicking at Belfast Crown Court yesterday, but defence QC Arthur Harvey asked for the charge to be put again.

When it was, Scott, from Clarawood Park in east Belfast, simply said “guilty”.

The body of 31-year-old Mr Hicking was found in his flat, also in Clarawood Park, around 12.30pm on Saturday April 30, 2011.

Death was caused by multiple stab wounds.

Following yesterday’s guilty plea, Mr Justice McCloskey told Scott that under law “as a matter of obligation I must now perform the duty of sentencing you to life imprisonment”.

He explained to Scott that once probation pre-sentence reports and any other reports had been compiled he would then fix the minimum period he must spend behind bars, but added: “Your release from prison will not be a matter for this court.

“That will rather be a matter for a different judicial body, the Parole Commissioners... they will decide whether it is essential for the protection of the public for you to be detained,” said the judge.

East Belfast DUP MLA Robin Newton said he knew Mr Hicking from when he was a child.

He said Mr Hicking’s mother had never come to terms with the brutal murder.

“It was dreadful,” said Mr Newton.

“I remember Richard and his brother growing up and I worked to help his mother get special accommodation just before his death.

“I don’t think she will ever get over it.”

Speaking at the time of Mr Hicking’s murder his wheelchair-bound mother Jacqueline said she learned of her son's death on the internet.

The mother-of-two, who still lives in the Clarawood area, had gone past the police cordon where her murdered son lay inside. She said: “I found out on the internet it was Richard.

“I wondered why the police had the area sealed off but they wouldn't tell me a thing.

“Richard lived in those flats but I had no idea that he was murdered.”

It was claimed by neighbours that the gruesome murder scene was discovered by Mr Hicking’s partner.

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