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Belfast murder victims 'stabbed to death for just £100'

Claims row sparked north Belfast Bloodbath

Pacemaker Press 23/12/2019 Police at the scene of a serious incident in North Belfast. A rapid response paramedic and one officer went to the scene at Kinnaird Close off Duncairn Avenue on Monday. Pic Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker Press 23/12/2019 Police at the scene of a serious incident in North Belfast. A rapid response paramedic and one officer went to the scene at Kinnaird Close off Duncairn Avenue on Monday. Pic Pacemaker Press
Steven McBride
Ciaran Barnes

By Ciaran Barnes

Double murder suspect Steven McBrine told stunned cops how he used multiple knives and a bottle to stab his vulnerable victims.

The 35-year-old also confessed that the killing spree was sparked by a row over stolen money - understood to be £100.

These admissions are what solicitor Denis Moloney referred to in court on Boxing Day as his client's "full and frank account" which was given to police.

Because McBrine had consumed so much drugs and alcohol, detectives had to wait until he sobered up before questioning him about the murders of Frances Murray (37) and Joe Dutton (47).

The friends were stabbed to death last Monday in a frenzied attack described as a "bloodbath" by the man who discovered their bodies in a flat at Kinnaird Close in north Belfast.

McBrine was living in the property off the Antrim Road, with pals Frances and Joe spending the morning there drinking with him.

An argument broke out over missing money, which detectives believe was the catalyst for the slaughter.

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McBrine was seen fleeing the property covered in blood and was arrested nearby a short time later.

When he was interviewed the following day having sobered up, the murder suspect accepted he had carried out the killings.

Shocked detectives listened to McBrine describing how he used multiple knives and a bottle to stab innocent victims Frances and Joe.

He also admitted that the attack was sparked by the belief that a sum of cash had been stolen from him. Security insiders told Sunday Life the sum was just £100.

"McBrine admitted everything during interview," said a source.

"He was extremely contrite and apologised to the families and friends of his victims, which will probably mean little to them.

"McBrine described how he had spent the morning drinking in his flat with Frances and Joe, and how he was drunk and had taken drugs. It was because of this that the interview was delayed; he had to sober up before making his signed statement."

The families of Frances Murray and Joe Dutton were given their post-mortem results on Friday. McBrine confessed to stabbing them multiple times and using several kitchen knives and a bottle.

"It was a prolonged attack," added a security source. "Alcohol was a major contributing factor. McBrine said had he not been drunk he wouldn't have behaved the way he did. The two victims weren't in a position to defend themselves because they, too, had been drinking."

After fleeing the Kinnaird Close massacre, murder suspect McBrine tried to take his own life by downing a full sheet of prescription pills. Holding the white handle of a knife that was missing its blade, he was seen trying to change out of his blood-stained clothes.

Foaming at the mouth, he was later arrested by a heavily-armed PSNI response unit, backed up by a helicopter, near the Cliftonville Road. Prior to this he told a witness that he was intent on killing himself and that "they took my money".

It was during questioning at Musgrave Street police station on Christmas Eve that McBrine confessed to the killings. He appeared in Belfast Magistrates Court on Boxing Day to be formally charged.

Describing the deaths as a "great tragedy", defence solicitor Denis Moloney confirmed his client had given police a "full and frank account".

He said McBrine had been drinking with Frances and Joe in the lead-up to the murders.

"The defendant knew the parties concerned, they had been put together," said Mr Moloney.

"Unfortunately a dispute has arisen and two people ended up dead. The defendant was fully co-operative with the authorities."

Giving evidence, a detective said: "He (McBrine) made full admissions to it."

District Judge George Conner remanded McBrine in custody. He is due to appear in court again via video-link on January 23.

Originally from west Belfast, the murder suspect has led a nomadic lifestyle, also spending time living in Derry city. Before relocating to a flat in north Belfast, McBrine had been living in the Lower Newtownards Road area. He is also known to have moved between hostels in the city centre used by alcoholics and drug addicts.

The victims of the Kinnaird Close knife rampage will be buried this week. Frances Murray will be laid to rest tomorrow after a service at Sacred Heart Church on the Oldpark Road in north Belfast. Joe Dutton's funeral will take place the following day at St Oliver Plunkett's Church in the Lenadoon district of west Belfast.

A death notice for Frances described her as a "beloved daughter", while a similar notice for her friend Joe praised him for being a "beloved son" and a "loving father".

The Kinnaird Close apartment block in which they were drinking with murder suspect Steven McBrine provides accommodation for some people considered vulnerable because of addiction issues.

cbarnes@sundaylife.co.uk

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