No remorse in court as sentence is handed down
The family of murder victim Marcell Seeley kept a dignified silence in court yesterday as his killer Mark Ward was sentenced to a minimum of 16 years in prison.
Dressed in a blue tracksuit top and jeans, Ward exchanged a thumbs-up signal with his family as he was brought before the dock in Belfast Crown Court, showing no emotion as his punishment was handed down.
Four police officers separated the Seeley and Ward families during the sentencing.
Having never admitted to the brutal killing, Ward (25) previously swore and spat at the Seeley family when a jury found him guilty in June.
Giving a warning about outbursts from the public gallery, trial judge Mr Justice Treacy said an aggravating factor in Ward's shocking crime was that he had abandoned his gravely injured "friend" without making any attempt to get help.
Mr Seeley's sister Carrai and others left the court quietly yesterday before police read out a family statement.
Speaking afterwards, Detective Chief Inspector Eamonn Corrigan welcomed the sentence, saying Ward had never shown remorse or admitted the killing.
"This was a vicious, brutal attack on a man in his own home. He was kicked and stamped on on the ground and left to die," he said.
DCI Corrigan added Ward had been caught using a combination of forensics, CCTV and DNA evidence.
Key to the prosecution's case was a footprint of a size nine Base London shoe found beside the body, similar to a pair worn by Ward when he had been previously questioned by police.
DCI Corrigan said he considered Ward "extremely dangerous," adding, "he has shown no remorse and in fact, I understand that he still denies it."
He acknowledged Ward's motive had been difficult to establish but police enquiries had shown he had been on a drink and drugs binge prior to the offence.
Ward's family protested the sentence outside the court yesterday, insisting he was innocent.
Asked if he had a message for the Seeley family, Ward's brother, Martin Ward, said: "They lost a family member but they haven't got justice either, how can they when they have an innocent man in there? It's terrible for that family, the police are just glad to clean it up."
Responding to the Ward family's refusal to accept the verdict, DCI Corrigan said: "The jury, members of the public, considered the evidence carefully and I believe they came to the right decision."