Belfast Telegraph

Man who beat Armagh dad-of-four Marcell Seeley to death challenges conviction

By Alan Erwin

A man jailed for beating and stamping a father-of-four to death has launched a bid to overturn his murder conviction.

Mark Ward, 26, is appealing the guilty verdict based on his level of drunkenness and alleged intent to kill Marcell Seeley at his home in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

Senior judges adjourned the hearing after an issue emerged about how a claim Ward had been "wiped" on the night of the attack was dealt with at trial.

Mr Seeley's body was discovered in the living room of his Dingwell Park flat on the Tagnaven estate in October 2015.

The 34-year-old victim, also known as Junior, died from blunt force trauma to the head.

He had also sustained multiple injuries, including fractures to his ribs and a bone just above his voice box.

A pathologist concluded that he would have survived for several hours after the attack.

Ward, from Drumellan Gardens in Craigavon, denied murdering Mr Seeley - a man he was said to have known for around a decade.

But he was sentenced to a minimum 16 years behind bars after a jury found him guilty.

Footprints found at the scene of the killing had been key to his conviction.

A distinctive sole pattern was matched to shoes worn by Ward in CCTV footage of him walking towards the victim's home on the night of the alleged murder.

Prison guards escorted him into the Court of Appeal today for the planned hearing of his challenge.

Police officers also attended to keep the Ward and Seeley families apart in the public gallery.

Defence lawyers were set to contest the safety of the conviction by examining the trial judge's direction to the jury.

Ward's level of intoxication and how it impacted on the question of intent to commit murder feature in the appeal.

One of the issues involves how jurors were advised on claims by a witness that the defendant had declared himself "wiped".

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan told the parties: "It's a fairly dramatic phrase."

Prosecution counsel confirmed the appeal is still being resisted - irrespective of any issues around how the jury was advised.

"The question is (is the verdict unsafe), given the severity of the attack," he said.

Adjourning the hearing until October, Sir Declan stressed the need to review the issues and relevant authorities.

He added: "I think it would be unsatisfactory to start dealing with this on a haphazard-type basis."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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