Belfast Telegraph

Belfast doctor O'Neill who admitted murdering his mum gets life sentence

Declan O'Neill (left) with his mother Anne
Declan O'Neill (left) with his mother Anne

A doctor from south Belfast has been handed a life sentence after he admitted murdering his 51-year old mother.

Declan Kevin O'Neill appeared at Belfast Crown Court on Monday, September 23, where he tearfully pleaded guilty to murdering his mother Anne O'Neill.

The retired nurse was found in the garden of her elderly parents home at Ardmore Avenue in Finaghy around 7am on Saturday October 21st, 2017. The mother-of-two was found on the grass with head injuries, and despite medical intervention she died at the scene.

Her 29-year old son, from Malone Avenue, was arrested in the aftermath of the murder, and for the past two years he has denied murdering his mother. He appeared in court earlier this year where he entered a 'not guilty' plea, and was due to stand trial some time this year.

However, O'Neill was brought to court today where his barrister Greg Berry QC asked that he be re-arraigned on the single charge he faced.

After confirming his name, a tearful and shaking O'Neill was asked by a clerk of the court how he pleaded when charged with murdering his mother. He replied "guilty."

Following the plea, Mr Justice Colton told O'Neill: "As you have now pleaded guilty to murder, I am obliged by law to impose a sentence of life imprisonment on you."

The judge also told O'Neill that a hearing will be held next month to determine the minimum amount of time he will spend in prison before he is considered eligible for release by the Paroles Commission.

Mr Berry said the defence was awaiting medical reports, while Crown barrister Neil Connor QC said there had been consultation and communication with Mrs O'Neill's wider family circle - including her daughter and her elderly parents - regarding the incident and the impact is has had on them.

Mr Justice Colton then addressed O'Neill and told him "you can be returned to custody and you will have a tariff hearing on October 25th."

Declan O’Neill
Declan O’Neill

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