Northern Ireland news

David Gill pleads guilty to the murder of Pat McCormick

Laganside Court in Belfast

A man has pleaded guilty to the murder of William 'Pat' McCormick in Co Down almost three years ago.

David Gill (29), of no fixed abode, was due to go on trial next week with five co-accused on charges arising out of the death of Mr McCormick on May 30, 2019.

The body of the 55-year old Newtownards man was discovered in a lake in Ballygowan in July 2019.

At Belfast Crown Court today, defence counsel Ciaran Murphy QC told Mr Justice Scoffield he had an application to have Gill re-arraigned on the single charge he faced of murdering the father-of-four.

When the charge of murdering Mr McCormick was put to Gill by the court clerk, he replied: "Guilty.''

Following his guilty plea, Mr Justice Scoffield told the defendant: "Mr Gill, you have been convicted on your own plea to the offence of murder contrary to Common Law.

"By law there is only one sentence which is available to me in respect of that and that sentence is one of life imprisonment.

"I am imposing that sentence on you now. At a later hearing I will set what is called your tariff and that is the minimum period you will have to serve in prison before you become eligible to be released on licence.

"I will not set the date for that hearing today as there are some reports we have to look at.''

Mr Justice Scoffield ordered a pre-sentence report to be prepared on Gill by the Probation Board for Northern Ireland.

Following the brief hearing, Gill was taken into custody to start his life sentence and his tariff hearing will take place at a later date.

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