Northern Ireland

'Body in boot' victim Kyle Neil, 23, 'was stabbed 200 times'

Kyle Neil Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The body of 23-year-old Kyle Neil was found in the boot of a car in Belfast

A murder victim was stabbed about 200 times in a "frenzied and repeated attack" a court in Belfast has heard.

The body of Kyle Neil, 23, from Belfast who had been living in Bangor, was found in the boot of a car outside a house in south Belfast in April last year.

It had been moved by his killer and his killer's girlfriend.

His former friend, Wesley Harry Vance, 28, has pleaded guilty to the murder.

His girlfriend at that time, Stephanie Todd, 26, admitted obstructing police over the murder.

Vance formerly lived at Church Gate Studios Comber where he killed Kyle Neil, a father of one, during a heated row on 12 April 2015.

Details of what happened were heard during a tariff and sentence hearing of Downpatrick Crown Court sitting in Belfast under Mr Justice Colton on Tuesday.

It is understood that the row took place after a party had ended and other guests had left. Both men were drunk. Ms Todd was sleeping in another room at the time.

Of the 200 stab wounds, the court heard 50 were to the scalp and face, 64 to the chest, and 52 to the back, trunk and neck

The court heard that Vance wrapped Kyle Neil's body in a blanket, brought it down the stairs and put it in the boot of his car, before driving to the nearby Island Hill Nature Reserve and disposing of a phone which, he believed, belonged to the dead man.

In fact, it belonged to his girlfriend, Ms Todd.

He returned to the flat in Comber and, when he woke her, she was unable to find her phone in the flat. There was no landline.

She then drove the car with Vance and the body from Comber via Forestside to Windsor Avenue, south Belfast, to her mother's home.

Her mother dialled 999 and the police arrived to find the car, the body in the boot and a knife in the foot well. They arrested both Vance and Todd.

At the Comber flat, police also found bloodstained scissors in a bin.

At the hearing, counsel for Vance said he admitted he lost control during the fight but initially believed he had been defending himself.

The barrister said Vance believed: "It was his life, or my life", and submitted that the case came close to the border between manslaughter and murder.

He suggested to the court that the case hinged on an "over-reaction in self defence".

The judge is expected on Monday to tell Vance and Todd how long they will spend in jail.

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