PSNI release CCTV showing killer Raymond O'Neill leaving Jennifer Dornan home after brutal attack

Police have released CCTV footage of Belfast mum Jennifer Dornan's killer leaving her home after setting fire to the property in a bid to cover his tracks.

Raymond O'Neill was jailed for a minimum 22 years for the killing.

The 44-year-old formerly of Amcomri Street in Belfast, stabbed the mum of three to death before setting fire to her Lagmore home in 2015.

As well as his sentencing for murder he was handed seven years for arson. He has lodged an appeal.

Jennifer’s body was found in her Hazel View home in the early hours of Sunday, 2 August 2015. She had been out with friends the previous night.

Raymond O’Neill was a passenger in the car that gave Jennifer and her friends a lift. Police say they believed this was the first time they had met. After the evening out, Jennifer went back to a friend’s house on her way home, where she again came into Raymond O’Neill’s company.

Detective Superintendent Eamonn Corrigan said she left the house alone and walked the short distance home. However, CCTV showed that she was followed a short time later by O’Neill.

"O’Neill entered the house having tried to conceal his identity from CCTV. He stabbed Jennifer in the chest causing her death, and then set fire to the property," he said.

“This was an atrocious, senseless and cold-blooded attack. It left a family devastated and three young children – two boys and a girl – without their mother.

“The arson, which was O’Neill’s attempt to cover his tracks, added to their heartbreak. It left an innocent young woman’s body unrecognisable and a family home destroyed."

Detective Superintendent Eamonn Corrigan with members of Jennifer Dornan's family.

Detective Superintendent Corrigan said the case was challenging and complex. "O’Neill attempted to conceal his identity, destroyed evidence of his crimes through arson and then left the jurisdiction in the days after the murder," he continued.

“It was only through years of hard work and dedication by the investigating detectives with assistance of An Garda Síochána and Public Prosecution Service colleagues, that brought O’Neill to justice.

“Today our thoughts are with Jennifer’s family and acknowledge their grit and determination during this difficult and lengthy journey through the Criminal Justice System.

“It is almost seven years on now, and the family's pain is understandably as raw as ever.

“At no stage has O’Neill shown any remorse for carrying out this sickening and incredibly violent act. I can only hope that today’s sentencing offers some assurance that we will work tirelessly to bring offenders to justice."

Ciaran McQuillan, Head of the Public Prosecution Service Serious Crime Unit described Jennifer as a devoted mother to her three young children and a beloved daughter, sister, aunt and friend.

"She had just returned from a night out with friends on 2nd August 2015 when she was brutally murdered by Raymond O’Neill in her own home, where she was entitled to feel safe.

“Jennifer was alone and vulnerable when O’Neill followed her home and entered her house uninvited. In what must have been a terrifying ordeal, he attacked her, stabbing her to death with a knife from her own kitchen.

"He then set fire to Jennifer’s home with her inside, presumably in an attempt to destroy evidence, before fleeing Northern Ireland shortly afterwards to evade arrest. O’Neill has shown a callous disregard for Jennifer’s family throughout by continuing to deny what he has done.

"Despite his conviction for her murder, his denials mean we still do not know why he targeted Jennifer or the full circumstances in which she died.

Claire, sister of Jennifer Dornan, with family and friends. Pic Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker

He continued: “The loss of Jennifer has caused her loved ones immeasurable anguish, which was compounded as the case against O’Neill unfolded. They have shown great strength, bravery and patience throughout the investigation and prosecution process, and we thank them for that. “Our thoughts remain with them and we hope the conclusion of this case will give some consolation to them and to all who miss Jennifer.

“This has been a result of extremely close and collaborative working between the prosecution team in the PPS Serious Crime Unit, Counsel, and the PSNI’s Major Investigation Team. The PPS engaged with police from the earliest stages of their investigation in this very complex circumstantial but ultimately compelling case.

“Any murder is appalling, but Jennifer is but one of far too many women who have been murdered in Northern Ireland in recent years. We in the PPS are aware that violence and the fear of violence has a devastating impact on the lives of women and girls.

“The PPS is committed to working with all our partners in the criminal justice system and other stakeholders to do all we can to tackle the scourge of violence against women and girls in our society. We work tirelessly to build cases and bring offenders to justice where there is the evidence to do so. We are also committed to dealing sensitively with families, keeping them updated at key points as cases progress, and signposting them to specialist sources of support.”