Life in prison for murderer who battered man to death
A father-of-one was jailed for life yesterday after he admitted beating Richard Miskelly to death outside a house in Newtownards.
Rhys Magee appeared at Belfast Crown Court, where he pleaded guilty to a charge of murdering the 24-year-old.
Despite the best efforts of emergency services who were called to the scene, Mr Miskelly died outside a house on the Bangor Road in the early hours of February 26, 2017.
Magee, from Carrowdore Road in Newtownards, carried out the attack after consuming both alcohol and ketamine.
After ordering Mr Miskelly to leave the house, Magee followed him down the driveway and subjected him to two separate attacks.
He initially denied a charge of murder and was due to stand trial next week.
However, his barrister Martin O'Rourke asked that he be rearraigned, and after speaking to confirm his name, Magee replied "guilty" when the charge of murdering Mr Miskelly was put to him again.
The 20-year-old was also charged with two counts of perverting the course of justice in the aftermath of the fatal beating.
It was the Crown's case that Magee initially claimed he had just arrived at the scene in a taxi and came across Mr Miskelly lying on the ground.
He also told his friend: "You came home an hour before me and you didn't see anything."
However, Crown lawyer Ciaran Murphy said that as these two charges were subsumed within the murder, he asked that they be 'left on the book' and not proceeded with.
After Magee admitted the murder charge, a mandatory life sentence was imposed by Mr Justice Colton.
The judge then set a tariff hearing for February 23, when the minimum term Magee will spend in jail before he is eligible to be considered for release will be determined.
It also emerged during yesterday's hearing that victim impact statements will be sought ahead of the tariff hearing, along with pre-sentence reports compiled on Magee.
After Mr Justice Colton handed Magee a life sentence, he was led from the dock of the court and into custody in handcuffs by prison staff, just yards from where Mr Miskelly's family and friends sat in the public gallery.