A man and woman were sentenced today, Wednesday 20 September, at Dungannon Crown Court in connection with the murder of Pat Ward.
Mr Ward, who was aged 30, was found dead in an alleyway in Clogher on February 9, 2019.
Niall Cox, aged 28, will serve a minimum of 20 years in prison, having previously pleaded guilty to murder.
His partner at the time, Karen Marie McDonald, aged 37, was sentenced to 10 years, having previously been found guilty of manslaughter. Half of this sentence is to be served in custody, and half on licence.
CCTV footage showing Niall Cox returning to the house after dragging Mr Ward’s body into the alleyway
Detective Inspector Claire McGarvey said: “Pat Ward was attacked in Karen McDonald’s home in the McCrea Park area of the village. He had been socialising here, with both defendants, before the fatal assault took place.
“CCTV footage shows Niall Cox, briefly assisted by McDonald, drag Mr Ward’s body from the house at 6.42am on Saturday 9 February 2019.
“Cox continues to drag the victim towards and into an alleyway. Here, he abandons Mr Ward and returns to the house. Distressingly, later that morning, Mr Ward’s lifeless body is found by a couple of passers-by.”
Detective Inspector McGarvey continued: “The results of a post mortem show that he had sustained horrific and multiple injuries to his head and upper body. He had been beaten, kicked and stabbed.”
She added: “Pat was a loving husband, son and father to four young children. His wife and family have been robbed of their loved one in this most brutal and senseless attack.
“Thanks to our investigation team, and working in partnership with our colleagues in the Public Prosecution Service, the defendants have now been held accountable for their actions.
“While I hope today’s outcome offers the family some degree of closure, I’m mindful that it won’t take away their heartache or sadness. Their worlds have been torn apart, and my thoughts and that of the team are with them.”
Statement from Ellen Ward, Pat’s wife
Pat was my husband, and my entire world. He was the most loving family man, who simply idolised our four children: Tom, Leonie, Chanara and Pat Junior.
When Pat was murdered, my life was shattered. I lost the love of my life, and the way in which he died will haunt me forever. I can’t begin to understand how anyone could inflict such brutality, such cruelty, upon another living being.
Our children were so young when Pat’s life was taken – Pat Junior was just a baby. They have been left to grow up without their father.
We’re trying to get on with our lives, but it honestly breaks my heart that Pat isn’t here. He won’t be around to see their birthdays and to celebrate each Christmas. He isn’t here with me to watch them grow up.
I am relieved that today’s sentence has finally been passed, and I’m truly grateful to all who played a part in the process. But it won’t of course bring my husband back.
It’s not just myself and the children who continue to grieve. Pat’s parents, the wider family, and our closest friends have all suffered terribly.