Belfast Telegraph

Thug Dalzell who repeatedly stamped on my dad’s head until he died should never go free, says son

By Michael Donnelly

The son of a man who died after a "senseless assault" has said his father's killer should never be released from jail.

Richard Dalzell was sentenced to 12 years in prison yesterday for the murder of Mark Lamont in Coleraine.

A court heard how the killer, a window cleaner from Co Down, "repeatedly stamped" on his victim's head, later claiming it was self-defence.

Mr Lamont was attacked at an address in the Ballycastle Road area of Coleraine in the early hours of September 26, 2016.

The 54-year-old, from Captain Street Lower in the town, died in hospital two weeks later.

Dalzell (37), from Whinpark Road in Newtownards, pleaded guilty to murder shortly before the trial was due to start.

Sentencing him at Belfast Crown Court, Mr Justice Colton said the attack was "a particularly serious assault that went beyond that which could be considered self-defence or a fight for which there was legitimate justification".

He added: "The assault is aggravated by the fact that the victim was clearly vulnerable as he was lying on the ground when his head was stamped upon repeatedly".

Speaking afterwards, Mr Lamont's son, Karl, said Dalzell should never be released. "No sentence will bring my dad back. In my opinion, life should mean life," he said.

Mr Lamont stressed that his family missed the victim every day, explaining: "No sentence will take away the pain and the hurt this family has suffered over the past 18 months. It's now time to pick things up and move on as a family".

A senior PSNI detective said the murder also had a traumatic impact on Mr Lamont's partner.

Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell added: "Several members of Mr Lamont's family have shared how his death has affected them - from Mark's 35-year-old son, Karl, who has disturbing recollections of his father's last days, to his teenage son, who was studying for exams when his father was murdered. Mark's partner, Brenda, the mother of his four-year-old son, revealed how hard it was to watch as he lay in hospital in the days before he died.

"She said, 'The memory of him lying in a lifeless state haunts me every night when I try to sleep'."

Sentencing Dalzell, Mr Justice Colton accepted there were a number of mitigating factors - he acted initially in self-defence after being provoked, and the initial fight was spontaneous, not premeditated.

But he said these factors had to be judged in the context of what was "a serious, sustained and senseless assault upon a victim who was in a vulnerable position".

He stressed the crimes were further aggravated by fleeing the scene to evade police.

Mr Justice Colton said the victim impact reports into the "traumatic and unnecessary death" should make the defendant understand the "extent of the damage" and hurt that he had caused.

Dalzell, who smiled and waved to friends in a packed public gallery during the hearing, claimed he had "got the better" of Mr Lamont, one of three hooded men who initially walked in on him and his girlfriend.

The father-of-three was found lying in a pool of blood outside the woman's Ballycastle Road home in the early hours of September 26, 2016.

He never regained consciousness and died on October 11.

The previous day, Dalzell and the woman had been drinking, but it was punctuated with "verbal exchanges" with Mr Lamont and two of his friends - one had been in a previous relationship with the woman.

Having left the bar still arguing, Dalzell and the woman returned to her home.

But while "engaging in sexual intercourse", they were confronted by a masked and hooded Mr Lamont and friends.

They left, but Mr Lamont returned, after which he was attacked.

When he later gave himself up to police, Dalzell claimed had been challenged a fight but he wasn't "going to let myself get hit ... I won, I got the better of him ... we had a fight, he lost".

Belfast Telegraph

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