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Newry man who killed friend after setting fires inside victim’s home to spend three-and-a-half years behind bars

Jimmy Thompson
Jimmy Thompson

A man who admitted to manslaughter after setting several fires inside his victim’s home will spend three-and-a-half years behind bars.

Today, Wednesday, February 7, Gary Anthony Magee, of Parkview Newry, was sentenced for manslaughter and committing arson recklessly to endanger life having unlawfully killed Andrew James Thompson.

The 44-year-old was sentenced at Newry Crown Court to serve seven years; half to be served in custody and half on license, following his guilty plea last October.

Mr Thompson, who was aged 62, died in a fire that was deliberately started in his home in Cloughoge, in the outskirts of Newry, in May 2021.

Detective Chief Inspector Anthony Kelly said: “The fatal fire took place on the night of Friday, May 21, 2021. Officers attended the scene along with the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service and Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

“Here, Mr Thompson – known as Jimmy – was found unconscious in a bedroom and carried outside by colleagues from Fire Service. Sadly, he was declared dead at the scene.

“Gary Magee, who lived locally, was also found slumped inside the locked backdoor and was taken to hospital for treatment.

“It’s been proven that Magee had started three fires, at various locations within the house, by the direct ignition of combustible material.

“The results of a subsequent post mortem confirmed that Jimmy’s death was caused by smoke inhalation.”

Detective Chief Inspector Kelly continued: “I’m keen to acknowledge the efforts of everyone who attended that scene, from Fire Service and Ambulance Service to our own officers. And I’d also like to thank local people who raised the alarm, and went on to assist our investigation.

“Thanks to our investigation team, and working in partnership with our colleagues in the Public Prosecution Service, the defendant has been held accountable for his actions.

Gary Magee

Gary Magee

“I’m deeply mindful that nothing will take away the family’s sorrow. This was a deliberate and senseless act, which has resulted in unimaginable loss. It leaves behind a grieving partner and loving family who remain truly heartbroken. My thoughts, and that of the team, are with them.”

Colin Thompson – Jimmy’s brother – said it has been “a sad and truly difficult two and a half years for us”.

He added: “We’ve all suffered: Jimmy’s partner, his friends, and the whole family. Today’s sentencing of Gary Magee will help to bring some closure, but it won’t bring Jimmy back. Nothing will change.

“We’re left with an emptiness. We miss him every single day, and we’ll continue to grieve for the loss of our brother for a long time to come.

“We would like to thank the investigating team. I, my family, and Jimmy’s partner will be forever grateful for all the support you’ve given us. We’d also like to thank the Fire Service and medics for all they did to help.”

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