Life sentence after man admits 'aiding and abetting' Malcolm McKeown murder

Malcolm McKeown was shot dead in Waringstown in August 2019. Credit: UTV

A life sentence has been imposed upon a 28-year old man after he admitted 'aiding and abetting' the murder of Malcolm McKeown.

The 54-year-old victim was shot dead at he sat in a BMW parked at the rear of a service station in Waringstown on August 19, 2019.

Four men were charged with murder and a trial began at Belfast Crown Court last week.

As all four defendants sat in the dock on Monday, a barrister for one of the accused addressed Mr Justice Fowler.

Gavan Duffy KC asked that his client, Andrew Thomas Kenneth Martin, be re-arraigned on the murder charge.

From Bridge Street in Banbridge, Martin confirmed his identity to a court clerk and was then charged with murdering Mr McKeown.

When asked how he pleaded to the charge, Martin replied "guilty to aiding and abetting."

Following this, Mr Justice Fowler spoke to Martin and said: "As a result of your plea of guilty to murder, there is only one sentence that I can impose and that is a sentence of life imprisonment.

"However, a tariff hearing will be set, a date will be set for that and you will be informed of that date in due course."

When the non-jury hearing was opened last week, the Crown made the case that Martin was one of two men captured on CCTV in Lurgan fleeing from a burned out Passat believed to have been used in the murder.

Martin's three co-accused - 29-year-old Jake O'Brien from Rectory Road in Lurgan, 35-year-old Stevie Lee Watson from Princeton Avenue in Lurgan, and 34-year old Simon Smyth from Hazelgrove Avenue in Lurgan - continue to deny murdering Mr McKeown.

In light of Martin's plea, Crown barrister Ciaran Murphy KC asked for the case to be adjourned until Tuesday morning.

This request was granted by Mr Justice Fowler and as Martin was being led from the dock and into custody by prison staff, he waved at friends and family in the public gallery.

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