Keep up with Armagh i

Co Armagh man admits to brutal killing of Nathan Gibson in Craigavon

Nathan Gibson

A Lurgan man accused of stabbing a young man to death was handed a life sentence today after he admitted murder.

The case against John Paul Whitla had been listed for review at Craigavon Crown Court; however, defence lawyer Eugene Grant KC asked for three of the charges to be put to the 44-year-old again.

Standing in the dock, flanked by prison officers, Whitla said “guilty” when the charge of murdering Nathan Gibson (25), from Craigavon, was put to him.

Whitla, of no fixed abode, also pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm and trespass with intent to commit sexual assault arising from the same incident on January 16, 2020.

Other charges of assault, false imprisonment and assault were left on the books following an application by prosecuting KC Frank O’Donoghue.

Judge Patrick Lynch KC told self-confessed killer Whitla that, given his admissions, there was only one sentence he could pass under law — “that of life imprisonment”.

The facts of the case have not yet been formally opened in court, but it is understood Mr Gibson was discovered fatally wounded on a towpath near Lake Road in Craigavon.

The area was closed for a day as police and forensics teams swept the area, while the Legahory estate home of Mr Gibson was also cordoned off, under a heavy police presence.

Speaking following the murder, Detective Inspector John Caldwell said police received a report Mr Gibson had been attacked and, when officers responded, they found him wounded on the towpath. Tragically, Mr Gibson was pronounced dead at the scene.

In court today, Judge Lynch told Whitla the next step was to fix the minimum tariff that he must serve of his life sentence.

Remanding the killer back into custody, the judge adjourned the case to November 17, ordering that a pre-sentence probation report and victim impact statements be lodged ahead of the hearing.

Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Most read today

More in Craigavon