Belfast Telegraph

Belfast man awaits sentencing over pal's murder

Victim: Brian Burke was killed in east Belfast
Victim: Brian Burke was killed in east Belfast

By John Cassidy

An east Belfast man yesterday pleaded guilty to murdering a friend.

Kenneth Cowan (29), of Titania Street in the Cregagh area of the city, was due to go on trial in January next year.

At an arraignment hearing in September before Belfast Crown Court, Cowan had denied murdering Brian Anthony Burke at a house in the area in April this year. But at the same court yesterday, a defence barrister asked Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland for Cowan to be re-arraigned on the single charge he faced.

When the charge of murder was put to Cowan, the clerk of the court asked if he pleaded guilty or not guilty.

Cowan, flanked by prison officers in the dock, replied "Guilty".

In light of his guilty plea, Judge McFarland said he was imposing an immediate sentence of life imprisonment.

The Belfast Recorder said that a tariff hearing would be held on Friday, February 1, 2019, to determine how long Cowan will spend in prison before he is eligible to apply for parole.

No details were given in court about the murder.

But at the previous arraignment hearing, his defence counsel Gavan Duffy QC told the court: "The position is that the defendant in this case accepts full responsibility for causing the death of the deceased, Mr Burke."

Following his guilty plea to murder, Cowan was remanded in custody to Maghaberry prison to await the tariff ruling.

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