Northern Ireland

Anne O'Neill: Son is sentenced to life for her murder

Declan Kevin O'Neill Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Declan Kevin O'Neill admitted murdering his mother

A south Belfast doctor has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his mother.

Declan Kevin O'Neill admitted murdering his 51-year old mother Anne O'Neill.

The retired nurse was found in the garden of her elderly parents' home at Ardmore Avenue in Finaghy on Saturday 21 October, 2017.

The mother-of-two was found on the grass with head injuries and despite medical intervention she died at the scene.

Her 29-year-old son, of Malone Avenue, appeared in court earlier this year where he entered a not guilty plea and was due to stand trial some time this year.

However, O'Neill was brought to Belfast Crown Court on Monday where his barrister Greg Berry QC asked for him to be rearraigned on the single charge he faced.

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Anne O'Neill died in October 2017

After confirming his name, the charge of murder was put to a tearful O'Neill and he replied, "guilty".

Following the plea, Mr Justice Colton said: "As you have now pleaded guilty to murder, I am obliged by law to impose a sentence of life imprisonment on you."

He told O'Neill that a hearing will be held next month to determine the minimum amount of time he will spend in prison before he is considered eligible for release by the Parole Commission.

Mr Berry said the defence was awaiting medical reports, while Crown barrister Neil Connor QC said there had been consultation and communication with Mrs O'Neill's wider family circle - including her daughter and her elderly parents - regarding the incident and the impact it has had.

Mr Justice Colton then addressed O'Neill and told him, "you can be returned to custody and you will have a tariff hearing on 25 October."

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