Father-of-one is sentenced for Co Down murder

Richard Miskelly died following an assault in Newtownards
Richard Miskelly died following an assault in Newtownards

Self-confessed killer Rhys Magee who kicked his victim so hard he thought he ‘broke his foot’, must serve at least 10 years of a life sentence for the murder of Newtownards man Richard Miskelly.

Mr Justice Colton told the 20-year-old father-of-one, the “tragic pointless and traumatic death” of 24-year-old Mr Miskelly has had a profound impact on his family, whose “lives have been irreparably damaged ... and will resonate with them for the rest of their lives”.

The Downpatrick Crown Court judge, sitting in Belfast’s Laganside Courthouse, also told Magee “I can only hope that the defendant, as he reflects upon his actions which caused Richard’s death, will understand the extent of the damage he has caused.”

However, later in his judgement Mr Justice Colton added that while Magee may not have intended to caused the death of Mr Miskelly, it was a clear case of murder.

And he told Magee that “he will have had to confront the uncomfortable truth about this conduct, which was so reprehensible and unnecessary. He will have to face the consequences of his actions for the remainder of his life.”

The judge also said that given Magee’s guilty plea and expression of what he had taken as his “genuine remorse”, he was entitled to a reduction in the sentence.

However, Mr Justice Colton said the 10-year tariff, the equivalent of a 20-year determinate sentence, was the minimum term he will serve before his case may be referred to the Life Sentence Review Commissioners for consideration.

The judge said “I make it clear, however, that if and when he is released on licence, he will, for the remainder of his life, be liable to be recalled to prison if at any time he does not comply with the terms of that licence.”

Magee from Carrowdore Road in Newtownards, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in January for the murder 24-year-old Mr Miskelly outside a friend’s home on the town’s Bangor Road in the early hours of February 26 last year.

Last month the court heard Magee was high on a cocktail of drink and the drug Ketamine, when he launched his fatal attack, but initially claimed he’d just arrived at the scene and had tried to help the unfortunate Mr Miskelly.

However, prosecution QC Ciaran Murphy revealed the truth was that as Mr Miskelly attempted to sit up Magee ran at him, and “volleyed the deceased with his right foot”. The blow was so hard he told his friend he thought he had broken his foot.

Magee later admitted that in his drunken and drugged state, he had “lost his temper ... and later just saw red”, and that Mr Miskelly was so “vulnerable that he could have pushed him over with a finger”.

Defence QC Martin O’Rourke claimed that whatever occurred “this genuinely was a one-off incident which will not be replicated”, and that it was “spontaneous and lacked any pre-planning”.

The lawyer said that the time a remorseful Magee had taken the drug Katamine, which experts recognised could cause even patients to suffer side effects of violent and aggressive behaviour and to act in an irrational ways.