A 23-year-old man who killed Northern Ireland father-of-one Robert Molloy-Jones in a violent altercation sparked by a bag of Diazepam has been handed a five-year sentence.
As Jordan Snoddy was told the sentence will be divided equally between prison and licence for the manslaughter of Mr Molloy-Jones, the victim's sister called Snoddy a scumbag and walked out of court.
Earlier this year, Snoddy stood trial at Belfast Crown Court for the murder of the 30-year-old man, who died in the Parkmount Street area of Tiger's Bay on the evening of June 28, 2018.
Whilst the jury acquitted him of murder, they found him guilty of manslaughter.
Snoddy, whose Co Antrim address is the subject of a reporting restriction, made the case he was acting in self-defence after Mr Molloy-Jones punched him then tried to steal a bag of Diazepam from him.
During the trial, Snoddy gave evidence and said that after meeting Mr Molloy-Jones on the street, he went back to his flat and smoked some cannabis.
As Snoddy was leaving the flat to go and buy a bag of 50 Diazepam, Mr Molloy-Jones accompanied him to a dealer's house. Snoddy said he gave Mr Molloy-Jones five tablets, and as they made their way back, he was pushed from behind at a set of steps then punched by the older man, who tried to take the bag.
Snoddy said that after the attack and attempted robbery, he acted in self-defence and punched the other man three times which caused him to fall.
He flatly denied kicking Mr Molloy-Jones as he lay on the ground - but this claim was rejected by the pathologist who carried out the post-mortem,
Professor Jack Crane concluded Mr Molloy-Jones died from a bleed to the surface of the brain caused by a blow to the left side of his neck which ruptured his vertebral artery.
Prof Crane attributed the fatal injury to "blunt force trauma" which he said could have been caused by being kicked or being struck with an object whilst in the ground.
During today's sentencing remarks, Judge David McFarland told Snoddy that he accepted Mr Molloy-Jones launched an "unwarranted attack" with an intention to rob the bag of Diazepam.
The Judge also told Snoddy it was "perfectly proper" he defended himself initially with the three punches he threw in self-defence.
However, the Judge said that despite Snoddy's denials that he administered further kicks or punches, "it would appear there was a kick to the left neck area and that was the fatal blow. There were catastrophic consequences from that kick ... resulting in almost immediate death."
Before he passed sentence, Judge McFarland - who presided over the two-week trial - heard from both the Crown and defence.
Crown barrister James Johnston said that as well as manslaughter, Snoddy was to be sentenced for a further four offences committed in the aftermath of Mr Molloy-Jones's death - namely possessing a wooden chair leg, and three separate assaults on police after his arrest.
Mr Johnston revealed the fatal incident occurred when Snoddy was on bail for assaulting a paramedic.
He highlighted the impact Mr Molloy-Jones's death has had on his loved ones, including his daughter who was five at the time of her father's death.
Defence barrister Brian McCartney QC said that from the immediate aftermath of Mr Molloy-Jones's death to the point where Snoddy gave evidence at the trial, his client has always "acknowledged his culpability."
Pointing out the two men had known each other "no longer that 30 minutes" prior to the fatal incident after meeting on the street, Mr McCartney said both men had issues with drugs.
The defence barrister also revealed Snoddy is "haunted by the memory" of that evening, has expressed genuine remorse and added: "Death in this case was tragic, it was unusual, it wasn't intended and it was unexpected."
Mr McCartney concluded his submissions by telling the judge that whilst on remand, Snoddy is now drugs-free - apart from one relapse - and has "cleaned up his act."
As he passed sentence, Judge McFarland said the lives of both the deceased and the defendant had been "blighted by drugs" which was evidenced by Snoddy's "intoxicated state" in police custody, following his arrest.
He also noted the "significant impact" the loss of Mr Molloy-Jones has had on his loved ones, "particularly taking into account the circumstances of his death."
After handing Snoddy a five-year sentence, Judge McFarland told the prison staff "take him down."