Murder victim's twin Irwin Neil avoids jail sentence over burglary of OAP
The twin brother of 'body-in-the boot' murder victim Kyle Neil, who was caught by have-a-go hero neighbours after he burgled a pensioner's home, has been released on two years probation.
Belfast Crown Court Judge Patricia Smyth told Irwin Neil that while the murder of his twin "had a profound effect on your wellbeing", it was clear from the evidence he was attempting to change his life, which was at "a turning point".
Judge Smyth said that in 10 months on remand, Neil had begun dealing with his problems, engaging in a number of programmes available to inmates, and that "the public can best be protected... by building on what you have achieved whilst in custody".
The 25-year-old, from Crumlin Road in Belfast, admitted charges of burglary and going equipped for theft.
He was caught with a bag of screwdrivers, rubber gloves and cable ties after he was cornered in a dead end street by spirited citizens.
Prosecution lawyer David McClean had told the court they had spotted Neil and another man running from the home of their elderly neighbour in North Hill Street on the morning of June 8, 2015.
"Neighbours had observed two men acting suspiciously in the area and had takeaway food with them. Some had come to see what they were doing. One noticed the victim's back gate and door were open,'' he said.
Mr McClean said as one neighbour went to investigate, he was met by an armed man fleeing the property, followed by Neil, who ran off in a different direction. The householder was found by another neighbour watching television, unaware anyone had been in his house.
The lawyer added that Neil was cornered in a cul-de-sac, where he was apprehended and held until police arrived.
"A bag was recovered and found to contain three screwdrivers, rubber gloves, a blue Ikea knife and cable ties that were in the shape of handcuffs,'' he said.
Defence barrister Sean O'Hare said that just two months before the burglary Neil had "lost his twin brother in a violent incident and the circumstances had a devastating effect and loss to him''.
He said that on the morning of the burglary Neil had just come from a party, where he had consumed drugs and alcohol.
Mr O'Hare said while this was not an excuse, it was a simple explanation "to put in context where this defendant was at the time and the effect the loss of his brother had on him".
In July this year a friend of his brother, Wesley Hugh Vance, was ordered to serve at least 12 years of a life sentence for the murder. The 26-year-old, of Church Gate studios, Comber, stabbed him up to 200 times before putting his body in the boot of his Ford Fiesta car.
His 26-year-old girlfriend Stephanie Todd drove the car to the south Belfast home of her mum, who alerted police. Todd, a mother-of-one, from Russell Court, Belfast, was freed on a 12-month conditional discharge for obstructing police investigating the April 2015 murder.