Belfast Telegraph

Kenneth Cowan jailed for 10 years for murder of friend Brian Burke

Brian Burke. Credit: PSNI
Brian Burke. Credit: PSNI

By John Cassidy

An east Belfast man will spend a minimum of ten years of a life sentence in prison for the murder of his 29-year-old friend.

Kenneth Cowan (30), of Titania Street, off the Cregagh Road, pleaded guilty last December to the murder of Brian Burke in an upstairs room of the house and was handed an automatic life sentence.

Belfast Crown Court heard on Friday Cowan had armed himself with the knife after Mr Burke had got the better of him in a game of "horseplay'' in a first floor bedroom in April 2018.

A senior prosecution lawyer said Cowan rammed the 12cm knife into the chest of Mr Burke with "moderate force'', first piercing a lung before entering the heart.

Cowan's defence counsel said that he "wished he could undo his actions of that night'' and had expressed "genuine remorse'' for causing the death of his friend.

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Victim: Brian Burke was killed in east Belfast

Handing Cowan a minimum of ten years in jail before he could apply for parole, Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland said: "This was a senseless taking of life of a young man and it is natural that family and friends will struggle to rationalise what has happened.''

Detective Chief Inspector Peter McKenna, speaking after the sentencing, said: "This was a brutal murder and I welcome today’s sentence. Brian was spending his evening relaxing, playing computer games and watching TV with friends when a play fight broke out between him and Kenneth.

"Kenneth saw red and he ran downstairs into the kitchen and grabbed a knife before returning and stabbing Brian straight in the chest. The blade punctured Brian’s lung and penetrated his heart, leaving him little chance of survival.

"Brian was rushed to hospital but sadly died within the hour.

"Brian was just a young man in the prime of his life when he was the innocent victim of this attack. He should have been safe enjoying his evening with friends but Kenneth lost his temper and Brian paid the price for this with his life.

"Brian was a much loved friend and family member who helped out in his local Jujutsu club and loved music, skateboarding and martial arts.

"Brian’s life was brought to a brutal end and his mum Deena and two brothers Michael and John have been left devastated by the murder. Kenneth has shown no remorse for his actions and whilst he is now behind bars, nothing can ever ease the pain and loss that he has caused."

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