Northern Ireland

Window cleaner 'repeatedly stamped' on victim's head

Richard Dalzell
Image caption Richard Dalzell is accused of murdering 54-year-old Mark Lamont (archive image)

A County Down window cleaner who has admitted murdering a man, "repeatedly stamped'' on his victim's head while he lay on the ground, a court has heard.

Mark Anthony Lamont, 54, died after an attack in Coleraine, County Londonderry, in 2016.

Richard Hugh Jack Dalzell, 37, of Whinpark in Newtownards, pleaded guilty last month to his murder.

Dalzell is currently serving a mandatory life sentence.

At Belfast Crown Court on Friday, a tariff hearing was held to determine how long he would spend in prison before he would be eligible to apply for parole.

Prosecution counsel Ciaran Murphy QC told the court that at 01:00 on 26 September, 2016, police were called by the ambulance service to attend the scene at Ballycastle Road, Coleraine, after Mr Lamont was found "lying in blood'' on the ground.

The victim was first taken to the nearby Causeway Hospital in a critical condition, before being transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

He never regained consciousness and died on 11 October, 2016.

Detectives launched a murder investigation and during the course of their inquiries discovered that Dalzell and his partner Deborah Ramsey had been in The Forge Bar in Coleraine from 23:30 on 25 September, 2016, and had been "drinking since midday''.

Witnesses told police of a "bad atmosphere in the Forge Bar'' that night. A number of arguments had taken place between Dalzell and Ms Ramsey and Mark Lamont and two of his friends, one of which had been in a previous relationship with Ms Ramsey.

Mr Murphy said the couple left the bar and went to her house on the Ballycastle Road.

CCTV footage showed them arguing and Dalzell was seen to "kick a shop shutter''.

The court heard the couple were in her home when three men walked in through an unlocked front door with "hoods up over their heads and their faces obscured''.

However, Ms Ramsey recognised two of them, including one who was her former boyfriend.

The court heard that following an altercation and a stand off in the property, the three men left. Mr Lamont returned a short time later and a "serious assault took place'' outside in the street.

Image caption The case was heard at Belfast Crown Court on Friday

Ms Ramsey told police that she tried to intervene and "got between'' Dalzell and Mr Lamont and shouted at the defendant to "stop''.

After kicking Mr Lamont with his right foot, Dalzell turned to Ms Ramsey and said: "This is your fault''.

A neighbour told police how he saw a "tall, well built male...repeatedly stamping on a male lying on the ground''.

A second neighbour told detectives he saw the defendant "jumping up and down'' on Mr Lamont's head.

She added: "He was putting a lot of effort into what he was doing."

When Dalzell saw her on her phone to police, the court heard he shouted at her: "I'm in the UDA. You saw nothing.''

The judge, Mr Justice Colton, heard that Dalzell got into his Audi A4 convertible and "fled the scene''.

He was later detected speeding along the Upper Newtownards Road in the early hours of 26 September, 2016.

Police initially gave chase, Mr Murphy said, but "because of the high speed, the pursuit was stopped due to public safety''.

Later that day, Dalzell attended Coleraine police station where he was formally arrested.

At a police interview he told detectives that he was acting in self defence, telling officers: "This was a fight that I was challenged to and I won. I was not going to let myself get hit.

"I got the better of him and he lost.''

Asked if he had kicked Mr Lamont to the head, Dalzell replied: "I can't remember if that happened or not."

'Trauma injury'

Mr Murphy said Dalzell's actions went well beyond what constituted self defence.

"There can be absolutely no doubt that the stamping of Mr Lamont to the head while lying on the ground had been to cause injury if not an intent to kill and there is a serious culpability for that action," he added.

A post mortem examination carried out by Professor Jack Crane said that Mr Lamont died as a result of a "trauma injury to the brain with a depressed fracture of the skull''.

He had also sustained a bleed to the brain, bruising under the scalp and fractures to facial bones.

Professor Crane said the injuries were consistent with being caused by "stamping or kicking to the head while he was lying on the ground''.

The court was told that a probation report found Dalzell "posed a significant risk of serious harm to the public in the future''.

The senior prosecutor said that victim impact reports from the deceased's two sons, one aged 35 years and the other 17, along with Mr Lamont's partner who he had a child to, showed the "serious impact'' the death had on them "now and forever''.

Defence counsel Martin O'Rourke said Dalzell had "expressed his remorse and guilt'' in both a medical report and a pre-sentence report.

He told Mr Justice Colton that the attack "was not pre-planned or premeditated....there was no intention to kill,'' adding that as result of the attack Dalzell had been "diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder'' (PTSD).

Mr Justice Colton said he wanted to consider "a lot of material put before him'' and would give his tariff ruling next Wednesday, 18 April.

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