Murder victim stabbed 200 times in ‘frenzied and repeated attack’

Murdered man Kyle Neil (left) pictured with his killer Hugh Wesley Vance
Murdered man Kyle Neil (left) pictured with his killer Hugh Wesley Vance

A Belfast man was stabbed 200 times during a drunken row at a house party, a court has heard.

The body of Kyle Neil was found in the boot of a car owned by Hugh Wesley Vance which was driven to south Belfast by his girlfriend Stephanie Todd.

Vance, 27, formerly of Church Gate studios in Comber, Co Down, pleaded guilty last month to the murder on the day his trial was due to start.

Todd, 26, of Russell Court in Belfast, pleaded guilty to obstructing police and driving with excess alcohol.

A charge of assisting an offender was left on the books and “not to be proceeded with without the leave of the Crown Court or the Court of Appeal”.

Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard that a post-mortem examination on Mr Neil’s body revealed the extent of his injuries following the “frenzied and repeated attack’’ on April 12, 2015.

Prosecution counsel Liam McCollum QC told Mr Justice Colton that the victim sustained between 40-50 stab wounds to his face and neck, 64 knife wounds to his chest, 52 stab injuries to his back, trunk and neck, and further wounds to his hand which were described as “defensive” injuries.

As the details of his injuries were revealed to the court, several family relatives broke down in the public gallery and a woman had to be escorted from the court in floods of tears.

Mr McCollum QC told the court the murder took place in Vance’s second-floor apartment where a house party had taken place.

The lawyer said the defendant claimed at police interview that he had acted in self defence after a row broke out between him and Mr Neil after he had asked the victim to leave his flat.

Mr Justice Colton was told that a search was conducted of Vance’s flat and car and a number of weapons were recovered, including a “buckled knife” which was found in the footwell of the Fiesta car. A pair of scissors was also recovered from a bin. Both were blood stained and matched the victim’s DNA.

Vance’s defence counsel John McCrudden QC said the murder was a “tragic loss of life’’. “We say very clearly that this is a borderline case between manslaughter and murder. He admitted he lost control and that loss of control under old law would have been a defence of provocation.”

The judge remanded Vance back into custody and released Todd on continuing bail, with sentencing due next week.