Murder victim’s head stamped on repeatedly after row, court hears
A Co Down window cleaner "repeatedly stamped" on his victim's head while he lay on the ground following an altercation, a court has heard.
Richard Hugh Jackie Dalzell pleaded guilty last month to the murder of 54-year-old Mark Lamont in Coleraine in 2016.
Dalzell (37), of Whinpark Road in Newtownards, was given a mandatory life sentence.
A tariff hearing was held at Belfast Crown Court yesterday to determine how long he will spend in prison before he is be eligible to apply for parole.
Prosecution counsel Ciaran Murphy QC told the court that at 1am on September 26, 2016, police were called to Ballycastle Road in Coleraine after Mr Lamont was found "lying in blood" on the ground. The victim was taken to Causeway Hospital in a critical condition before being transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. He never regained consciousness and died on October 11, 2016.
During their inquiries, detectives discovered that Dalzell and his partner Deborah Ramsey had been in The Forge Bar in Coleraine from 11.30pm on September 25, 2016, and had been "drinking since midday".
Witnesses told police of a "bad atmosphere in the Forge Bar" that night and a series of arguments had taken place between Dalzell and Ms Ramsey and Mark Lamont and two of his friends, one of whom had been in a previous relationship with Ms Ramsey.
Mr Murphy said the couple left the bar and went to her house on the Ballycastle Road. CCTV footage showed them arguing and Dalzell kicked a shop shutter.
The court heard the couple were "engaging in sexual intercourse" in her home when three men walked in through an unlocked front door with "hoods up over their heads and their faces obscured".
However, Ms Ramsey recognised two of them, including one who was her former boyfriend.
Following an altercation, the three men left, only for Mark Lamont to return after a short time and a "serious assault took place" outside in the street.
Ms Ramsey told police she tried to intervene and "got between" Dalzell and Mr Lamont and shouted at the defendant to "stop". After kicking Mr Lamont with his right foot, Dalzell turned to Ms Ramsey and said: "This is your fault."
A neighbour told police how he saw a "tall, well built male ... repeatedly stamping on a male lying on the ground". A second neighbour told detectives he saw the defendant "jumping up and down" on Mr Lamont's head. She added: "He was putting a lot of effort into what he was doing."
Dalzell "fled the scene" before attending Coleraine police station the next day, September 26, 2016, where he was arrested.
He told detectives that he had been acting in self defence.
Asked if he kicked Mr Lamont to the head, Dalzell replied: "I can't remember if that happened or not."
Mr Murphy said: "This defendant says he got the better of Mr Lamont but his actions went well beyond what constituted self defence."
A post mortem found Mr Lamont died as a result of a "trauma injury to the brain with a depressed fracture of the skull".
He had also sustained a bleed to the brain.
The court was told that a probation report found Dalzell "posed a significant risk of serious harm to the public in the future".
Defence counsel Martin O'Rourke said Dalzell had "expressed his remorse and guilt'' in both a medical report and a pre-sentence report.
He told Mr Justice Colton that the attack "was not pre-planned or premeditated ... there was no intention to kill,'' adding that as result of the attack Dalzell had been "diagnosed as suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder'' (PTSD).
Mr Justice Colton said he would give his tariff ruling next Wednesday.