A 30-year-old man has been found guilty of the murder of Brian Phelan on the outskirts of Newry in July 2018.
Mr Phelan was stabbed three times in the neck and twice in the body during an attack on a remote Carrivekeeney Road, near to the village of Camlough.
He had gone there with Daniel Martin James Carroll, of Edward Street in Portadown, but originally from Newry.
Carroll was found guilty of Mr Phelan’s murder at Newry Crown Court on Wednesday.
During a two-week trial, the court heard that on the day of his death Mr Phelan had met Carroll in Bessbrook before travelling to the road with the intention of buying quad bikes.
The road, which runs up the side of Camlough mountain, effectively comes to a dead end for vehicles, however a path does lead across the mountain.
Defendant ‘fled the scene’
It was the defence’s case that three men with paramilitary links had appeared from a nearby field, attacked Mr Phelan, threatened him and then made off in the direction of the mountain.
Although he said he knew them, Carroll would not name the men stating that his life and that of his family was at risk.
The defence said that the mountain path could have been accessed by small vehicles such as quadbikes.
However, the prosecution said this version of events, which Carroll put forward 15 months after Brian Phelan’s death, was complete nonsense.
It said the defendant had attacked the victim and then fled the scene, changing his T-shirt before being arrested nearly two hours later at a family member’s home in Newry.
Although no definite motive was identified, the jury had been told of Carroll’s previous record, which included unprovoked violence.
Giving evidence, a police officer had also suggested there could have been a financial disagreement between the two men.
A jury of six men and five women took less than 90 minutes to reach a unanimous guilty verdict.
Social distancing meant that only a small number of Brian Phelan’s friends and family were permitted inside the courtroom.
There were emotional scenes from those in the pubic gallery with a loud cheer from the adjoining foyer.
Before being sent down, the judge told Carroll that he would be sentenced to life imprisonment.
A tariff hearing to determine the minimum amount of time he will spend in prison before being considered for parole will be set in November.
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