Belfast Telegraph

Toddler shouted 'bad daddy' after father blasted aunt to death with shotgun before turning it on her mother

By EAMONN MacDERMOTT

A two-year-old child shouted "bad daddy, bad daddy" as her father blasted her aunt and her mother with a shotgun, a court has heard.

The details emerged in the tariff hearing for Phelim McNally (27), who has admitted murdering Lauren O'Neill (18) and attempting to murder her 22-year-old sister Brenda O'Neill, who he had been in a relationship with until the previous week.

Outlining the prosecution case, Frank O'Donaghue QC said the night before the shooting McNally contacted Brenda saying he wanted to see their two children and put them to bed. He was told that the children were already in bed. At around 8.30am the next morning Brenda awoke to find McNally in her bedroom.

She asked how he got in and he held up a screwdriver, which he had used to unscrew a board over a broken window.

In what was described as "a civil" conversation McNally asked Brenda not to finish with him, but she was definite it was over.

McNally then went to his car and returned with a shotgun, saying he did not want to leave it in the car as the car did not lock.

He was asked to remove the shotgun but left it on the ground.

After playing with the children McNally made advances towards Brenda and she rejected him. He then lifted her phone and started going through her messages.

She tried to get the phone back but he wouldn't give it, and he saw messages described in court as "jokey and innocent", but which McNally took to mean Brenda was in a new relationship.

Around 10am Lauren arrived and Mr O'Donaghue said the girls sat downstairs while McNally remained upstairs.

The barrister said that McNally came down with the shotgun over his shoulder and tried to kiss Brenda, but was rejected.

He then said "right, that's the way it is", and said the person named in the texts "would not last the day". He left and Brenda locked the door.

Later McNally returned claiming he had forgotten his phone and left again, but this time Brenda did not lock the door.

Mr O'Donaghue said that "suddenly and without warning" the defendant appeared again with the shotgun, came to the kitchen door and fired two shots at Lauren, who was toying with her phone.

Without saying anything he then turned and shot Brenda once.

The baby girl who was sitting on the floor shouted "bad daddy, bad daddy". McNally then walked out.

Brenda's father at that point texted McNally telling him to leave Brenda alone, unaware that he had just shot both daughters.

The court was told that Mr O'Neill arrived at the house and found Lauren on the floor with the baby boy sitting beside her screaming, while Brenda had struggled to get out to get help.

When Mr O'Neill went to Brenda in a neighbour's house she said: "Daddy I'm sore, I'm sore."

Mr O'Donaghue said that McNally went to his brother's house and told him what he had done, and his brother flagged down a police car and handed him over.

The court was told that in 2009 McNally had been given a caution after threatening to "put a bullet" through his sister's partner's head, and in 2010 was granted a firearms certificate.

It was also revealed that McNally admitted assaulting Brenda during their relationship.

Defence barrister Jim Gallagher QC said it was clear McNally was "still attempting to be accepted back into the family unit he had been part of for the previous six years".

He said: "What the defendant did is an appalling act and he accepts it as such and apologises."

The barrister said there was no premeditation in the act and McNally had acted out of "hopelessness and rejection".

Judge Tracey said he would set the tariff next Friday morning.

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