Man gets life sentence for Ballycastle flat murder

Anthony McErlain
Anthony McErlain

A Co Antrim man has been jailed for life today after he pleaded guilty to the murder of a labourer in a seaside town over two years ago.

Christopher Keenan, 36 and of Broombeg View, Ballycastle, will learn next month exactly how long he will serve behind bars without parole for the murder of Anthony McErlain.

The 48-year-old was found dead at a flat in Ballycastle on January 28, 2016.

Police said at the time that he Mr McErlain had suffered a “traumatic and frightening death”.

Keenan appeared at Antrim Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, and entered a plea of guilty to the murder charge.

Mr Justice Colton sentenced him to a mandatory term of life in prison.

The judge remanded him in custody ahead of the preparation of a pre-sentence report.

Keenan will appear again at the same court on Friday, May 4, when a tariff hearing will be held to determine how long he should spend in custody before being released.

In November last year, his uncle, John Keenan, 51 and also of Broombeg View, Ballycastle, walked free from court after Mr Justice Colton ruled he should not stand trial for Mr McErlain’s murder.

His defence lawyers argued that he had “no case to answer”.

Anthony McErlain, a father-of-two, was a labourer who had spent many years living over the border in the Republic of Ireland.

He had also worked on the building of the Channel Tunnel and had worked for a construction company in Dunloy, Co Antrim.