A man has pleaded guilty to the murder of William 'Pat' McCormick in Co Down almost three years ago.
David Gill (29), of no fixed abode, was due to go on trial next week with five co-accused on charges linked to the death of Mr McCormick on May 30, 2019.
The body of the 55-year-old Newtownards man was discovered in a Ballygowan lake in July 2019.
At Belfast Crown Court today, defence counsel Ciaran Murphy QC told Mr Justice Scoffield he had an application to have Gill re-arraigned on the single charge he faced of murdering the father-of-four.
When the charge of murdering Mr McCormick was put to Gill, he replied "guilty.''
Following this, Mr Justice Scoffield told the defendant: "Mr Gill, you have been convicted on your own plea to the offence of murder contrary to common law.
“By law, there is only one sentence which is available to me in respect of that and that sentence is one of life imprisonment.
“I am imposing that sentence on you now. At a later hearing, I will set what is called your tariff and that is the minimum period you will have to serve in prison before you become eligible to be released on licence.
"I will not set the date for that hearing today as there are some reports we have to look at.''
Mr Justice Scoffield ordered a pre-sentence report on Gill to be prepared by the Probation Board.
Gill was then taken into custody to start his life sentence and his tariff hearing will take place at a later date.