Belfast Telegraph

10 years for thug Magee who kicked Richard Miskelly to death

By Michael Donnelly

The father of a man murdered in an altercation outside a house has told how his "life was turned upside down" when he heard the news of his death and that his "beautiful son was nearly unrecognisable" in the mortuary.

Newtownards man Richard Miskelly was 24 when he died in the early hours of Sunday, February 26, 2017.

Killer Rhys Magee, from Carrowdore Road in the town, kicked his victim so hard he thought he "broke his foot".

He must serve at least 10 years of his life sentence in prison.

Mr Justice Colton told the 20-year-old father-of-one that the "tragic, pointless and traumatic death" of Mr Miskelly had a profound impact on his family, whose "lives have been irreparably damaged... and will resonate with them for the rest of their lives".

Richard Miskelly senior said: "On the morning I was told my son had been murdered my whole life was turned upside down. It felt like a bad dream.

"Part of my life is missing and nothing is going to bring Richard back. I wanted it to be me, not him, lying in the mortuary. I was shaking and angry with so many emotions I can't explain. My beautiful son was nearly unrecognisable."

The Downpatrick Crown Court judge, sitting in Belfast, also told Magee: "I can only hope that the defendant, as he reflects upon his actions which caused Richard's death, will understand the extent of the damage he has caused."

Later in his judgment, Mr Justice Colton added that while Magee may not have intended to cause the death of Mr Miskelly, it was a clear case of murder.

He said Magee "will have had to confront the uncomfortable truth about this conduct, which was so reprehensible and unnecessary. He will have to face the consequences of his actions for the remainder of his life".

The judge also said that given Magee's guilty plea and expression of what he had taken as his "genuine remorse", he was entitled to a reduction in the sentence.

However, he said the 10-year tariff, the equivalent of a 20-year determinate sentence, was the minimum term he will serve before his case may be referred to the Life Sentence Review Commissioners for consideration.

He added: "I make it clear, however, that if and when he is released on licence he will, for the remainder of his life, be liable to be recalled to prison if at any time he does not comply with the terms of that licence."

Magee pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in January.

Last month the court heard Magee was high on a cocktail of drink and the drug ketamine when he launched the fatal attack, but initially claimed he'd just arrived at the scene and had tried to help Mr Miskelly.

However, prosecution QC Ciaran Murphy revealed the truth was that as Mr Miskelly attempted to sit up, Magee ran at him and "volleyed the deceased with his right foot".

The blow was so hard he told his friend he thought he had broken his foot.

Magee later admitted that in his drunken and drugged state he had "lost his temper... and later just saw red", and that Mr Miskelly was so "vulnerable that he could have pushed him over with a finger".

Defence QC Martin O'Rourke claimed that whatever occurred "this genuinely was a one-off incident which will not be replicated", and that it was "spontaneous and lacked any pre-planning".

The lawyer said that at the time of the attack Magee had taken ketamine, which experts recognised could cause people to suffer side-effects of violent and aggressive behaviour and to act in irrational ways.

Earlier the court heard that Magee and a friend returned to his friend's house in the early hours to find Mr Miskelly and his friend in the kitchen.

Not knowing them, and unaware they had been at an earlier party, they were ordered to leave.

However, when they were spotted in the driveway some 10 minutes later Magee carried out the first of two attacks, while his friend remonstrated with the friend of Mr Miskelly. Then following the second attack, he was overheard asking Magee: "What the f*** have you done?"

Although Magee attempted to distance himself from what had happened, initially telling police he had just arrived at the scene in a taxi and came across Mr Miskelly lying on the ground, a "shocked" Magee had also attempted to revive the victim.

However, despite his efforts and those of ambulance crews, Mr Miskelly died.

A post-mortem revealed death was due to a bleed on the brain caused by blunt force trauma.

He also suffered bruising and abrasions to his neck, two fractures to the jaw and other injuries, which could have been caused by punching or kicking or stomping with a shod foot, or a combination of all three.

Belfast Telegraph

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