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Tears in court as Christmas killer Nathan Ward admits guilt

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Jayne Toal Reat with daughter Charlotte

Jayne Toal Reat with daughter Charlotte

Murderer Nathan Ward

Murderer Nathan Ward

Police at the scene on Christmas Day last year

Police at the scene on Christmas Day last year

Jayne Toal Reat with daughter Charlotte

There were emotional scenes at Craigavon Crown Court yesterday as a 20-year-old man was given a life sentence for stabbing a mother to death on Christmas Day last year.

Dressed in a black T-shirt and grey track bottoms, Nathan Ward, from Lisburn, pleaded guilty to the murder of Jayne Toal Reat.

Her daughter, Charlotte, sitting just a few feet away in the public gallery, began sobbing and was comforted by friends as the defendant admitted killing her mum and trying to kill her.

Standing impassively in the dock and flanked by prison guards, Ward, with an address at Mornington Lane in the city, also admitted wounding his father, Joseph Tweedie, with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm during the same incident.

Following the guilty pleas, Judge Patrick Lynch QC jailed the murderer for life.

Adjourning the case for reports from a psychiatrist, probation services and the victims, Judge Lynch told Ward he would decide his minimum term in prison at a hearing in March.

None of the facts surrounding the murder were heard in court yesterday.

However, it is known that 43-year-old nurse Jayne died in her daughter's arms after being stabbed in a house in Lisburn's Mornington Lane early on Christmas Day.

During the attack her daughter sustained a number of knife wounds to her head, neck and face.

Ward's father also suffered knife wounds.

It is understood that police and ambulance crews were called to the scene of the crime a short time after 6am on December 25 of last year..

At the hearing at Craigavon Crown Court yesterday, Charlotte swore at her mother's killer as he was being led in handcuffs to the cells.

Just a few hours after the fatal attack, she posted a heart-wrenching message on social media that read: "I just want to thank everyone for all the kind messages and posts.

"I'm not in the frame of mind to reply to anyone, nor am I fit to be writing this status.

"Today will be a day I will never forget as my mum was murdered in front of my eyes and then later died in my arms.

"I can still feel her in my arms and hear her screams of pain and see the panic on her face.

"My mum died. I was stabbed twice in the head, once in my face and once to the back of my neck.

"I am with family and have to identify my beautiful mother's body tomorrow, which is not something I ever expected to be doing.

"Jayne Toal Reat, I just wish I could trade places with you.

"You're my hero for ever and always and I'll never forget you.

"I promise I will get you justice. That scum wont get away with this if it's the last thing I do."

Charlotte, a trained dancer, last year recorded a video performance of a specially composed dance in her mother's memory.

On her Facebook page, she paid tribute to her mother with the words: "This is a dance I created in memory of my beautiful mummy Jayne Reat.

"She was always my rock, my best friend and she died as my hero by saving my life.

"My mummy died a hero, a beautiful, selfless lady and she is now the most stunning angel in the sky."

Belfast Telegraph