Belfast Telegraph

Murderer handed life sentence after killing 'kind, supportive' friend

Victim beaten and stabbed to death in his own kitchen

The family of murder victim Richard Scullion leaving court
The family of murder victim Richard Scullion leaving court
Richard Scullion

By Ashleigh McDonald

A 29-year-old Co Down man murdered one of the only people who offered him kindness and friendship, a court heard on Friday.

Richard Gerard Scullion was battered with a frying pan, then beaten and stabbed to death in the kitchen of his Banbridge home last summer.

Last month David Robert Boyd was handed a life sentence after he admitted killing the popular 55-year-old - a man he later described as "kind" and "lovely".

In a letter written for the court by Mr Scullion's mother, she said her son was "a very friendly man and very popular with his many friends who have said his presence lit up the room with his humour and great wit".

As details of the murder emerged for the first time yesterday, Boyd was told by Mr Justice Colton that he will be told next week the minimum time he will spend in jail before he is considered eligible for release by Parole Commissioners.

The family and friends of Mr Scullion sat in the public gallery of Newry Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, and heard how the deceased, known as Gerald, was murdered in his own home by Boyd, from Scarva Walk, Banbridge.

Crown prosecutor Neil Connor QC said that prior to the fatal incident, the two men had been friends for around two years, and that on Friday July 6 last year Boyd had called to Mr Scullion's Millmount Court home.

Revealing that the details surrounding the fatal attack came from Boyd's confessions to police, Mr Connor said the two men drank alcohol, watched TV and listened to music.

The prosecutor said: "The mood appeared to change after a male called at the house and the deceased accused the defendant of bringing trouble to his door after the male left."

Mr Scullion then walked into his kitchen and, according to Boyd, he turned around with clenched fists. Boyd claimed he then reacted to a perceived threat, lifted a frying pan and struck Mr Scullion on the head with it, causing the older man to fall face-down on the floor.

Mr Connor said that as Mr Scullion lay there, Boyd punched and kicked him. At one stage Mr Scullion appeared to say "I've had enough" but Boyd then grabbed a knife, knelt on the other man's body and stabbed him several times.

A post mortem revealed the deceased had stab wounds to his back, neck, and several to his chest, one of which penetrated his aortic artery. Mr Connor said Mr Scullion's body was not found until Monday July 9.

Police were called to the scene and Mr Scullion's body was discovered lying face-down in a pool of dried blood. Mr Connor said "clearly he had been dead for some time".

Boyd was arrested on suspicion of murder hours later. While he initially denied the charge, Boyd later confessed to killing his friend. He also admitted hiding the murder weapon, a 19.5cm-long kitchen knife, and to disposing of his shirt and shoes near the River Bann.

Mr Connor said that while Boyd had a criminal record which included previous incidents of violence, his guilty plea was welcomed and he believed Boyd's remorse was genuine.

It was also accepted by the Crown that at the time, Boyd was suffering from a mental disorder.

Defence barrister Patrick Lyttle QC said the killing was a tragedy compounded by the fact Mr Scullion was one of the few people to offer kindness and support to his client.

Mr Lyttle described Boyd as "an isolated young man" who grew up largely in foster care after being abandoned by both parents. He said that in their two-year friendship, Mr Scullion offered help and stability to Boyd, and added: "It may come as little comfort to the family but he does appreciate the harm he caused to a man who was good and helpful to him."

The barrister said a "spontaneous fracas" led to Mr Scullion's death, that Boyd had "long and deep-seated problems" with anger, that he "could not control the rage", and that "the person who ended up giving him help, he ended up killing".

Mr Justice Colton said he wanted time to consider the case and that he will pass sentence on October 17.

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