Man guilty of bludgeoning friend to death with hammer in Belfast

The scene of the murder in Ardoyne Place in 2014

The scene of the murder in Ardoyne Place in 2014

The 28-year-old son of a murderer has been convicted of being a ruthless killer who bludgeoned a friend to death with a claw hammer and then tried to put the blame on a new drinking buddy.

Louis Maguire, known locally by the same “Luger” nickname as his father, also Louis Maguire, was unanimously convicted of murdering 35-year-old Eamonn Ferguson.

However, when his 33-year-old co-accused Christopher Power was acquitted of the murder, and convicted of helping him attempt to cover-up the killing, Maguire began shouting and was ordered from the dock by trial judge Mr Justice Deeny.

“You got that wrong,” Maguire shouted at the jury, before turning on Power, shouting: “You may have fooled the jury, but you don’t fool me ... I’ll remember you.”

Maguire had always denied murdering his friend Mr Ferguson, who was found in the early hours of March 15, 2014, lying in the blood-splattered living room of Maguire’s former Ardoyne Place home in north Belfast.

Although acquitted of the killing, Power, a former Co Offaly man, of no fixed abode, was convicted by a majority verdict of nine to one of an alternative charge of assisting an offender. He claimed he had only met Maguire and his victim days earlier.

It took the Belfast Crown Court jury of six men and four women just over three hours, over two days, to convict Maguire of murder, and Power of assisting an offender.

By their verdicts the jury rejected Maguire’s blame-game and so-called ‘cut-throat’ defence by pointing the guilty finger at Power, claiming he was the cold-blooded killer, while he was an innocent onlooker.

In acquitting Power of the murder charge, they accepted his claims that he had awoken from a drunken sleep and found Mr Ferguson lying in a pool of blood, watched over by Maguire sitting in a chair, smoking a cigarette and holding a hammer.

Initially police were told an unknown intruder had bludgeoned Mr Ferguson up to 20 times with a claw hammer in mistake for Maguire, while they had been out looking for cigarettes.

However, during their trial, first Maguire, then Power, took to the witness box to say they’d lied out of fear of the other.

In the end the jury accepted that Mr Ferguson had “died an unnatural death in a merciless attack”, but not at the hands of both men, as maintained by the prosecution, but at the hands of Maguire alone who had previously threatened to kill him.