Belfast Telegraph

Philip Strickland murder: Co Down man who pleaded guilty to killing denies firing fatal shot

By Ashleigh McDonald

A Co Down man who has already pleaded guilty to murdering Philip Strickland today denied firing the fatal shot which killed the farm labourer.

Ian Weir is one of four men charged with murdering Mr Strickland (37), who was shot in the face on the outskirts of Comber on January 11, 2012.

Mr Weir and his brother Jason have already pleaded guilty to murder, while two other men - Jimmy Seales (56) from Ballykeel Road in Hillsborough and 26-year old Stephen Charles McCaughey from Shackleton Walk in Newtownards - deny the charge.

The jury at Belfast Crown Court has already heard that Mr Strickland was shot in the leg at a yard on the Ballyglighorn Road before being bundled into the boot of his own car and driven a short distance to the Ballydrain Road, where he was shot in the face.

During a second day in the witness box, Mr Weir said that after Mr Strickland was shot in the leg and before he was shot in the face, it was his opinion that McCaughey left the scene.

The jury heard that when queried about whether he had been asked by McCaughey to minimise his role in the incident, Mr Weir replied: "Why would I minimise his role in it? Stephen did nothing. Why would Stephen ask me to do that when he had nothing to do with it."

As Mr Weir was being cross-examined by Martin O'Rourke QC - the barrister acting on behalf of McCaughey - he said that as far as he was concerned, McCaughey left the scene after the first shot was fired. When Mr O'Rourke suggested to Mr Weir that it was infact he who fired the fatal shot, Mr Weir replied: "I did not shoot Philip Strickland."

Mr O'Rourke said his client McCaughey told police "I would like to say Jimmy pulled the trigger, but it was Ian". Mr Weir replied: "If I shot Philip Strickland, I would not be dragging my family through the courts the way this has been done. I would have manned up in the police station and said it."

Earlier this week Mr Weir, a father of two from Derryboy Road in Killinchy, placed his father Jimmy Seales at the murder scene, armed with a shotgun. Seales has consistently denied he was present when Mr Strickland was killed.

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