Northern Ireland

Wheelie-bin murderer admits killing in 'moment of madness'

Stephen Thomas Hughes Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The judge called it "a somewhat remarkable turn around"

A man convicted of beating his vulnerable friend to death and dumping his body in a wheelie bin has admitted his guilt.

Stephen Thomas Hughes has always denied murdering Owen 'Fonsie' Creaney, but was found guilty by a jury in October.

Hughes made the admission at a hearing at Belfast Crown Court on Friday, describing the attack, in 2014, as "a moment of madness".

The judge called it "a somewhat remarkable turn around".

Hughes' lawyer argued it might show a degree of remorse, even at this late stage, but agreed Hughes be sentenced on the basis of the jury's verdict to convict him and Shaunean Boyle of the murder.

He said Hughes had accepted the enormity of what he had done that evening and what flowed from his actions in the subsequent days.

A psychiatric report showed Hughes to be suffering from a severe personality and mood disorder, brought on by alcohol and drug abuse.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Owen Creaney's body was found in a wheelie bin at

He and Boyle will be sentenced next Friday.

During their five-week trial, both admitted being present, but blamed each other for the violence inflicted on Mr Creaney, leaving him with over 60 injuries, including 15 fractured ribs, a broken breastbone as well as bleeding of and tearing to the brain.

Counsel for Boyle told the court she should be treated differently to Hughes given that he had lied and perjured himself in evidence to the jury and that it was he who was the killer.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Shaunean Boyle denied murder but was found guilty by a jury in October

They said that at the time of the attack in Hughes' Moyraverty Court home in Craigavon, Boyle was a vulnerable 21-year-old, and acting under Hughes' spell.

They also argued Boyle, from Edenderry Park in Banbridge, had now expressed remorse and regret for what happened, although he acknowledged this may not be accepted by the family.

More on this story