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Ravenhill double murder: Two friends beaten to death subjected to "savage" and "overwhelming" attack, jury told

By Ashleigh McDonald

Published 27/05/2015

Two friends who were beaten to death in a flat in east Belfast were subjected to a "savage" and "overwhelming" attack before attempts were made to clean up the murder scene, a jury was told today.

Victims Caron Smyth (40) and Finbar McGrillen (42) were found in the living room of Mr MGrillen's flat in the Ravenhill Court area of the city on Friday December 13, 2013.

The pair - who were described in court as "two innocent people" - sustained multiple injuries including fractured ribs, as well as scores of internal and external wounds to the head, neck and chest which were consistent with being punched, kicked and stamped on.

Two Belfast man, one of whom was in a relationship with Ms Smyth which ended days prior to the double murder, were charged with killing the friends.

Despite initially denying the charges, 34-year old Shaun Patrick Joseph Hegarty asked to be re-arraigned at Belfast Crown Court yesterday, where he admitted murdering both his ex-partner Ms Smyth and Mr McGrillen.

Hegarty, formerly of Grainne House in the New Lodge area of Belfast, was handed a life sentence by Mr Justice Weir and was told he will be informed of the minimum term he has to serve before he is eligible to be considered for release at the end of his co-accused's trial.

Ciaran Nugent (32), who the Crown say was with his friend Hegarty when Ms Smyth and Mr McGrillen were killed and was part of a joint enterprise, has denied both charges and is currently standing trial at Belfast Crown Court.

Nugent, formerly of the Simon Community on the Falls Road, admitted walking from Grainne House to Ravenhill Court with Hegarty in the early hours of December 12, 2013 - but denied he was involved in the double murder. He also told police it was a "barbaric attack", but said he was not prepared to tout on his friend as for him that would be a "death sentence."

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