The twin brother of ‘body-in-the-boot’ murder victim Kyle Neil, arrested by neighbours after he burgled a pensioner’s home, has been freed on two years probation.
Belfast Crown Court Judge Patricia Smyth told Irwin Neil that while the murder of his twin “had a profound effect on your wellbeing”, it was clear from the evidence he was attempting to change his life.
Judge Smyth said that in the 10 months on remand, Neil had begun dealing with his problems, engaging in a number of programmes available to inmates and that “the public can best be protected ... by building on what you have achieved whilst in custody”.
The 25-year-old from north Belfast’s Crumlin Road, who admitted charges of burglary and going equipped for theft, was caught with a bag of screwdrivers, rubber gloves, and “cable ties in the shape of handcuffs’’, after he was cornered in a dead-end street by public-spirited citizens.
Prosecution lawyer David McClean had told the court they had spotted Neil and another man running from the home of their elderly neighbour in North Hill Street on the morning of June 8, 2015.
“Neighbours had observed two men acting suspiciously in the area and had takeaway food with them. Some had come to see what they were doing. One noticed the victim’s back gate and door were open.’’
Mr McClean said as one neighbour went to investigate he was met by an armed man fleeing the property, followed by Neil, who ran off in a different direction. The householder was found by another neighbour watching television, unaware anyone had been in his house.
The lawyer added that Neil was cornered in a cul-de-sac, where he was apprehended and held until police arrived.
Defence barrister Sean O’Hare said that just two months before the burglary, Neil had “lost his twin brother in a violent incident and the circumstances had a devastating effect and loss to him’’.
He said that on the morning of the burglary Neil had just come from a party where he had consumed drugs and alcohol.
Mr O’Hare said while this was not an excuse, it was a simple explanation “to put in context where this defendant was at the time and the effect the loss of his brother had on him”.
In July a friend of his brother, Wesley Hugh Vance, was ordered to serve at least 12 years of a life sentence for the April 2015 murder. The 26-year-old, of Church Gate studios, Comber, stabbed Kyle Neil up to 200 times, before putting his body in the boot of his Fiesta car.