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Turkish man Orhan Koca pleads guilty to Eamonn Magee Jnr murder

By Michael Donnelly

The man accused of killing Eamonn Magee Jnr, the 22-year-old son of boxing champion Eamonn Snr, pleaded guilty to his murder moments before he was due to go on trial at Belfast Crown Court.

Following a twenty-five minute delay in proceedings on Tuesday, defence QC Arthur Harvey asked for father of three, Orhan Koca, a 34-year-old Turkish national, to be re-arraigned for the stabbing on May 30 2015.

Trial judge, Mr Justice Treacy agreed, and also for solicitor Jarlath Fields, to be in the dock with the former barman, and would-be barber, of no fixed abode, as the murder charge was put to him.

After his guilty plea, a suited Koca, the former partner of Mr Magee's girlfriend, Courtney Ward, was told by Mr Justice Treacy, that "in light of the plea of guilty to murder the court must impose the only sentence permitted by law, and that is life imprisonment".

The judge however, said that a later tariff hearing, to be held in early May, will determine how long Koca must serve of the life term before he can even be considered for release by parole comissioners.

While this was all going on, just yards behind Koca, in a packed public gallery of family and friends, sat Eamonn jnr's mother, Mary, and his father, Eamonn Snr, a former WBU Welterweight champion, and a weeping Ms Courtney.

No details of what had been described as "an unprovoked and vicious attack,” were given in court during the short hearing.  However, an earlier unsuccessful High Court bail hearing was told that in the weeks prior to the stabbing Koca had been stalking Ms Courtney and warning her to keep away from Eamonn Jnr.

Mr Magee, an university engineering student who had also decided to follow in his father's footsteps to become a professional boxer, was found in a pool of blood and bleeding heavily from stab wounds outside Ms Courtney's Summerhill Park Twinbrook home in the early hours of that May 30.

The earlier court was also told that he had left the house by the back door shortly after he and Ms Courtney had ordered a pizza.  She then heard screaming, and ran outside to find Mr Magee lying in the road, with two men standing over him trying to help him.

Koca, who had worked as a barman and also helped out in a Turkish barbers, was remanded back into custody.  In the days and weeks following his arrest both the bar and barbers came under attack.

Beckett's Bar, on the Stewartstown Road in west Belfast, suffered an arson attack, while Mo's barbers in Mount Eagle Square, Dunmurray, where Koca's had wanted "to learn the job",  was twice targeted, the second of which extensively damaged the shop after it was ram-raided with a blue van.

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