Trio accused of killing man with hammer admit manslaughter
Three men accused of viciously battering a Co Armagh man to death in a suspected homophobic attack have admitted his manslaughter.
The men, all in their 20s, had been due to go on trial for the murder of 43-year-old Andrew Lorimer, but yesterday at Craigavon Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, said they were "not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter".
It has been alleged Mr Lorimer was beaten, kicked and attacked with a hammer.
It is believed he remained alive for several hours after the brutal drink and drug-fuelled assault in February last year.
The three men, Christopher Wright (22), Richard Chester (23) and James Jordan (29), had been due to go on trial for murder yesterday, however, the senior defence lawyer asked for the charge to be read out to them again and it was then that all three said they were "not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter".
Prosecution QC Terence Mooney told Mr Justice Weir that having reviewed the evidence and consulted with the director of the PPS, he had been instructed to accept the pleas to the lesser offence.
In February 2012, Mr Lorimer's battered and blood-covered body was found by a burglar, who had broken into his flat at Portlec Place in the Mourneview area of Lurgan, two days after the fatal attack.
Evidence suggested Mr Lorimer had been kicked and beaten with a hammer in a suspected homophobic attack and also that he would have remained alive for hours after the fatal attack.
Police were told that a pornographic movie was being shown on the television and that the victim allegedly made a suggestive remark to one of the accused.
It was alleged the victim was attacked after he remarked that one of the men had a "nice ass".
Each of the three accused had offered differing accounts of how the fatal injuries were inflicted.
Following yesterday's guilty pleas, Wright from Mount Zion House, Jordan from Princes Street and Chester, of no fixed abode, were remanded back into custody.
Mr Justice Weir adjourned passing sentence until November when pre-sentence probation reports have been compiled.
Last night, John O'Doherty of the Rainbow Project, a LGBT organisation, said: "Research carried out by Rainbow Project shows that one in five LGBT people have been the victim of a homophobic hate crime in the three previous years and 64% of those are never reported to police.
"It's clear homophobic hate crime is still a huge issue within our society and we acknowledge the excellent police work that has gone into this case. We await judgment to see if the possible homophobic motivation is a factor in sentencing," he said.