Ravenhill double murder: Man gets life sentence after admitting he killed two friends in east Belfast
A man has admitted the double murder of a two friends in east Belfast.
The bodies of Caron Smyth (40) and Finbar McGrillen (42) were discovered in the living room of Mr McGrillen's apartment at Ravenhill Court in east Belfast on December 13, 2013.
Two Belfast men - Shaun Patrick Joseph Hegarty (34) and 33-year old Ciaran Nugent - were charged with murdering Ms Smyth and Mr McGrillen.
Both men initially denied the charges and a jury was sworn in at Belfast Crown Court yesterday morning. The pair were due to be tried together and the case was due to commence today.
However, at the request of Hegarty's barrister Frank O'Donoghoe QC, the 34-year old - formerly of Grainne House in the New Lodge, north Belfast, but whose address was given as HMP Maghaberry - was rearraigned on both charges.
When the charge of murdering Ms Smyth was put to Hegarty he replied "guilty." He entered the same plea when he was charged with murdering Mr McGrillen.
After he admitted the double murder, Hegarty was told by Mr Justice Weir: "You have pleaded guilty to two counts of murder. There is only one sentence permitted by law for the offence of murder and that is the sentence of life imprisonment, and I impose on you the sentence of life imprisonment on these two counts."
Hegarty was also informed by Mr Justice Weir that the minimum sentence he will have to serve before he will be considered eligible for release from prison will be set at the conclusion of the trial involving co-accused Ciaran Nugent.
Following the rearraignment Hegarty was remanded back in to custody. Nugent, who is formerly from the Simon Community on the Falls Road in the west of the city, has denied murdering Ms Smyth and Mr McGrillen.
A jury of five men and seven women were sworn in earlier yesterday and were informed by Mr Justice Weir that they should be available throughout the month of June.
Nugent, who is currently on remand in Maghaberry Prison, is due to appear in the dock today for the start of his double murder trial.