Northern Ireland

Claw hammer murder: Louis Maguire jailed for killing Eamonn Ferguson

Eamonn Ferguson Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Eamonn Ferguson, 35, was found dead in a flat at Ardoyne Place in March 2014.

A man has received a life sentence for the murder of a man who was beaten about 20 times with a claw hammer in north Belfast.

Eamonn Ferguson, 35, was found dead in a flat at Ardoyne Place in March 2014.

Louis Maguire, 28, formerly of Ardoyne Place, was given a minimum term of 17 years for the "unprovoked" attack.

A second man, Christopher Power of no fixed address, had been convicted of assisting an offender. He was released due to time already served in prison.

Following the sentencing, police released a recording of a 999 call which Maguire made after carrying out the murder, in which he claimed to police that he had returned home and found Mr Ferguson badly injured in his house.

Maguire told the 999 call handler there was a lot of blood and can be heard asking Power to check if Mr Ferguson was dead.

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Media captionThe 999 call by murderer who killed friend with claw hammer

Before the murder, Mr Ferguson went to a flat in north Belfast with Maguire and Power. They had all been drinking heavily.

There, the victim was subjected to a brutal attack - the court heard he was beaten up to 20 times with a claw hammer.

Maguire and Power were both originally charged with the murder and blamed each other during the trial.

However, a jury found Maguire alone responsible for carrying out the murder, while Power was convicted of assisting an offender.

Sentencing the pair, the judge said the violent attack appeared to be completely unprovoked.

He outlined to the court that Maguire had a poor upbringing and that his father was currently serving a life sentence for murder.

But he concluded that with 64 previous convictions, including violent offences, Maguire had been given many chances to change.

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Murderer Louis Maguire had 64 previous convictions, including violent offences, the judge said

Quoting the poet Philip Larkin, the judge said: "Man hands on misery to man."

Power was told by the judge that his participation in an "elaborate charade" to try to cover up the murder and his persistent lying to police meant he deserved every day he had spent in prison.

However, he decided the tariff he would impose would be covered by the time he had already served.

In a statement to the court, the victim's mother, Mrs Pat Ferguson, said: "Eamonn was a loving son, brother and uncle. He had worked as a painter and decorator and liked to play the guitar.

"He was intelligent and enjoyed reading. He loved to laugh and to make people laugh. Now, there is not a minute of the day when I don't think of him.

"His death has impacted on every part of our family's lives, lives which have been turned upside down, never to be the same again," she said.

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Christopher Power, convicted of assisting an offender, was released due to time already served

The officer who led the investigation, Det Ch Insp Justyn Galloway said: "I want to pay tribute to the Ferguson family who have shown great dignity over the past almost three years and during the harrowing evidence at last month's trial.

"I also want to acknowledge the local community in Ardoyne for the assistance they provided in working with the Major Investigation Team dealing with Eamonn's murder.

"People came forward, whether they were neighbours, friends or associates of Eamonn, and helped us. They told us what they knew, helping us to build a case and gave evidence.

"These convictions are an example of what can be achieved in the criminal justice system when communities and police work in partnership."