Northern Ireland

Jennifer Dornan murder: Prosecutors allege victim's house set on fire

Jennifer Dornan Image copyright Tanya Watson
Image caption Jennifer Dornan was murdered at her home in west Belfast in 2015

A jury has been told that prosecutors believe a west Belfast woman's home was set on fire after she was murdered.

A man has gone on trial for the murder of Jennifer Dornan more than four years ago. 

Raymond O'Neill, 41, formerly of Amcomri Street in the Lower Falls area of Belfast, is accused of killing Ms Dornan and setting fire to her home.

He denies the charges. The 30-year-old victim was a single mother of three children, aged three, seven and eight.

The trial has been told that she lived on her own. 

Ms Dornan was found inside her burning home at Hazel View in the Lagmore area of the city at about 05:00 BST in August 2015.

Opening the case on Monday, a prosecution lawyer told the jury that prosecutors believe Mr O'Neill followed Ms Dornan to her home in the early hours of a Sunday morning, stabbed her to death in her bedroom and "set the house on fire to destroy the evidence".

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Ms Dornan was found stabbed inside the burning house in the Lagmore area

He said she had three stab wounds to her chest and a post mortem examination showed that "she had been killed before the fire had started".

The prosecution explained to the jury that it is alleged that the defendant was in a car which collected the victim on Saturday evening to bring her to the home of a friend to get ready for a night out.

It is also alleged that both the defendant and the victim were at a house having drinks with friends after Ms Dornan and a friend were collected from a bar at about 01:30 BST.

CCTV images shown in court, taken from a house beside Ms Dornan's home, captured her walking home at about 03:00 BST, followed shortly afterwards by a man whose face was covered by a light coloured jacket.

The prosecution alleges that person was Mr O'Neill and that he subsequently "left the country" during the investigation into the murder and was arrested in the Republic of Ireland.

Mr O'Neill, who entered and left the dock in a wheelchair, denies the charges. 

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