Northern Ireland

Richard Hicking murder: Robert Scott admits killing neighbour

Murder victim Richard Hicking
Image caption Richard Hicking's body was discovered in a flat in east Belfast

An east Belfast man has pleaded guilty to murdering a neighbour.

Robert Scott, 36, had been due to go on trial for the murder of Richard Hicking at Belfast Crown Court, but changed his plea to guilty on Tuesday.

The body of Mr Hicking, 31, was found in his flat in Clarawood Park, on 30 April, 2011. He had been stabbed.

Mr Justice McCloskey told Scott, also from Clarawood Park, he would receive an automatic life sentence. The minimum term he must serve will be set later.

He explained to Scott that once probation pre-sentence reports and any other reports had been compiled, he would then fix the minimum period he must spend behind bars but added "your release from prison will not be a matter for this court".

"That will rather be a matter for a different judicial body, the Parole Commissioners... they will decide whether it is essential for the protection of the public for you to be detained," he said.

Remanding Scott back into custody, Mr Justice McCloskey adjourned the case until 8 February.