Belfast Telegraph

Michael Owens admits murdering Northern Ireland teacher Robert Flowerday

Michael Gerard Owens
Michael Gerard Owens

A Co Antrim man has admitted murdering a former schoolteacher and apologised to his victim's family for the "disgraceful and senseless" killing.

The body of retired Antrim Grammar schoolteacher Robert Flowerday was found in his Crumlin home last January after a member of the public raised concerns. At the time, a senior police officer said the 64-year old sustained injuries 'of the most horrific nature.'

Michael Gerard Owens, from Lisburn Road in Glenavy, was arrested and initially  denied both murdering Mr Flowerday on a date between January 27 and 30, 2018, and also of breaking into his Mill Road home with intent to steal.

At a previous court hearing, the 35-year old pleaded not guilty to the charges, and was due to stand trial next year.

However, in Antrim Crown Court on Thursday, October 3,, sitting in Belfast, Owen's barrister John McCrudden QC asked that his client be re-arraigned on both charges.

When the murder and burglary charges were put to Owens again, he replied 'guilty'. A second charge of breaking into the same property and stealing cash a month before the murder was 'left on the books' by the Crown.

Mr Justice Colton then addressed Owens, and told him: "Having pleaded guilty to murder, I am obliged by law to impose a sentence of life imprisonment on you, and I now do so."

The judge also told Owens that a tariff hearing will take place on November 15 when the minimum term he will spend in prison before being considered eligible for release will be determined.

Mr McCrudden then addressed the court and said he had been asked, on Owens' behalf, to "personally apologise" to Mr Flowerday's relatives who attended today's hearing.

The defence QC said: "He wished the family of Mr Flowerday to know that he apologises for this disgraceful and senseless murder and he is truly sorry for it."

Pre-sentence reports on Owens and Victim Impact Statements taken from Mr Flowerday's loved ones were ordered to be compiled ahead of next month's tariff hearing.

Mr Justice Colton then told prison staff "the defendant can be returned to custody."

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