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Ravenhill double murder: Second man admits killing friends

By Ashleigh McDonald

Published 02/06/2015

A 33-year old man who was facing trial for the murder of two friends in east Belfast has been handed a life sentence, after he changed his plea and admitted the double killing.

A jury of six men and six women was sworn in at Belfast Crown Court yesterday and the trial against Ciaran Nugent was due to commence on Tuesday.

Nugent, who is formerly from the Simon Community on the Falls Road in the west of the city, consistently denied involvement in the double murder and the Crown was due to open the case against him today.

However, after the close of normal court business yesterday, Nugent's legal team asked that he be re-arraigned for the murders of friends Caron Smyth (40) and 42-year old Finbar McGrillen.

The friends were found beaten to death in the living room of Mr McGrillen's flat at Ravenhill Court in east Belfast on December 13, 2013 after the alarm was raised by a paperboy.

Last week 34-year old Shaun Patrick Joseph Hegarty, who is formerly of Grainne House in the New Lodge area of Belfast, admitted murdering both his ex-partner Ms Smyth and Mr McGrillen.

Co-accused Nugent, who like Hegarty initially denied the murders, was due to stand trial - but after he changed his pleas to guilty, he was handed a life sentence by Mr Justice Weir.

The minimum sentence that both men will have to serve before they will be considered eligible for release from prison will be set at a tariff hearing.

Pre-sentence reports on both men have been ordered, and the pair are both currently on remand. A date for the tariff hearing has not yet been fixed.

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