Man jailed for 22 years for murder of Belfast mum of three Jennifer Dornan

Jennifer Dornan
Jennifer Dornan was killed in 2015

A man has been jailed for 22 years for the murder of Jennifer Dornan in Belfast.

Raymond O'Neill was sentenced on Friday. He had denied the charges, however, a jury unanimously convicted him of murder and arson after an eight week trial.

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

The court heard this was a "shocking murder" and "a woman's worst nightmare".

Raymond O'Neill. Pacemaker

O'Neill was handed a minimum of 22 years for murder and a sentence of seven years for arson to be served concurrently. He has lodged an appeal against his conviction.

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 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."