Northern Ireland

Claw hammer attack: Man convicted of murdering friend

Eamonn Ferguson Image copyright Justin Kernoghan
Image caption Eamonn Ferguson was found in the living room of his killer's former home in north Belfast

A 28-year-old north Belfast man has been found guilty of murdering a friend, whom he beat to death with a claw hammer.

Louis Maguire was convicted of murdering Eamonn Ferguson, 35, in 2014.

Mr Ferguson was found in the living room of his killer's former home in Ardoyne Place in north Belfast.

A second man, Christopher Power, 33, was acquitted of the murder. Afterwards, Maguire began shouting and was ordered from the dock.

Power, of no fixed abode, was convicted of assisting an offender. He claimed he had only met Maguire and his victim days earlier.

The jury at Belfast Crown Court rejected Maguire's defence of blaming Power, claiming he was the cold-blooded killer, while Power was an innocent onlooker.

Image caption The killing happened at a house in Ardoyne Place two years ago

In acquitting Power of the murder charge, the jury accepted his claims that he had awoken from a drunken sleep and found Mr Ferguson lying in a pool of blood.

The court heard that the victim was being watched over by Maguire sitting in a chair, smoking a cigarette and holding a hammer.

Initially police were told that an unknown intruder had bludgeoned Mr Ferguson up to 20 times with a claw hammer in mistake for Maguire, while the men had been out looking for cigarettes.

However, during their trial Maguire, and then Power, took to the witness box to say they had lied out of fear of the other.

The jury of six men and four women accepted that Mr Ferguson had "died an unnatural death in a merciless attack", not at the hands of both men, as maintained by the prosecution but at the hands of Maguire, alone, who had previously threatened to kill him.

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