Belfast Telegraph

Killer Rhys Magee thought he had broken his foot after violently kicking murder victim, Belfast court told

By Michael Donnelly

Self-confessed killer Rhys Magee kicked his victim Richard Miskelly so violently that he thought he had broken his foot, a court heard yesterday.

Prosecution lawyer Ciaran Murphy QC gave details of the attack which took place in February last year, as a court decided how long the 20-year-old would serve of his life sentence.

Adjourning the hearing until next month, Mr Justice Colton apologised, saying previous court commitments prevented him from preparing a written judgement on the minimum jail term.

Earlier, the Belfast Crown Court judge listened as the prosecution argued the tariff imposed should begin at the higher starting point of between 15 to 16 years.

Magee from Carrowdore Road in Newtownards, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in January for the murder of 24-year-old Mr Miskelly outside a friend's home on the town's Bangor Road.

At the time Magee, high on a cocktail of drink and the drug ketamine at the time of the attack, told police he had just arrived at the scene in a taxi and had tried to help the unfortunate Mr Miskelly.

Yesterday, prosecutor Mr Murphy revealed that as Mr Miskelly attempted to sit up after the initial attack, Magee ran at him, and "vollied the deceased with his right foot", telling his friend he thought he had broken it.

Mr Murphy pointed to the vulnerability of Mr Miskelly, describing him as being "of light weight, small stature".

"Clearly there was no justification for his actions when he caused the death of the deceased," said Mr Murphy.

Earlier, the court heard how 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 ten minutes later, Magee carried out the first of his 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 initially told 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 tried to revive him.

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

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

Later, defence lawyer Martin O'Rourke QC told the court: "This genuinely was a one-off incident which will not be replicated."

What had happened, he said, was "spontaneous and lacked any pre-planning".

The lawyer said that at the time Magee had taken the drug ketamine, which experts recognised could cause even patients to suffer violent and aggressive behaviour and act in irrational ways.

Mr O'Rourke said that Magee had also made a timely guilty plea to the murder and had admitted his involvement to police.

He accepted he lost his temper, had punched and kicked Mr Miskelly and his actions were aggressive.

Having seriously hurt the deceased, he had panicked, the lawyer said.

Mr O'Rourke argued the court could accept that Magee was genuinely remorseful for what he has done, clearly demonstrated when charged with the murder, saying that he was "very sorry" for Mr Miskelly's family.

Belfast Telegraph

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