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Turner brothers plead guilty to murdering Matthew Goddard in Belfast with guitar

By Michael Donnelly

Published 12/05/2016

Brutally attacked: Matthew Goddard
Brutally attacked: Matthew Goddard

Two brothers have been remanded in custody after pleading guilty to murdering an east Belfast man in his home with a guitar.

Moments before he was due to stand trial yesterday for the murder of 41-year-old Matthew Goddard at Christmas 2014, James Henry Turner (30) from Dunraven Court in Belfast, changed his plea to guilty.

Last week his older brother, 37 year-old William Turner from Glenea Grove in Belfast, also pleaded guilty to murder.

The pair have both been remanded in custody to await sentencing.

Mr Goddard was found murdered in the living room of his east Belfast home in Chobham Street on Christmas Eve 2014.

At the time it was said he had been the victim of a brutal and sustained attack, and had even been beaten with his own electric guitar.

A third man, Christian Walker of Ribble Street in Belfast was acquitted of the murder by direction of trial judge Mr Justice Treacy, after the prosecution offered no evidence in relation to him. This had followed Walker's guilty pleas to two additional charges in which he admitted perverting the course of public justice by giving the Turner brothers false alibis for the murder, and conspiring with them to pervert justice and the police investigation into the killing.

Prosecution QC Ciaran Murphy told Mr Justice Treacy that in light of Walker's guilty pleas he had taken further instructions and that the Crown was offering no further evidence of the murder charge in his case.

Mr Murphy added that Walker was therefore entitled to be formally acquitted by the jury of six men and six women, who were sworn in last week to hear the case.

Similarly, James Turner was acquitted of attacking another man when the prosecution offered no evidence on that charge. His brother is awaiting sentence on this charge, having pleaded guilty.

Walker was released on continuing bail while pre-sentence reports are prepared before all three men are sentenced next month.

Defence QC Charles McCreanor said that both psychiatric and psychological reports on Walker had already been lodged with the court. Mr Lyttle, speaking for Turner, said his client had been suffering from a long term brain injury and that it was intended that a psychiatric report on him will also be made available to the court.

For the prosecution, Mr Murphy said they would be providing victim impact reports from Mr Goddard's wife Maureen and immediate family.

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