Man handed life sentence for throat cut murder of Laurence Shaw

Jackie McDowell was given a life sentence
Jackie McDowell was given a life sentence

A Co Antrim man was handed a life sentence on Friday after he pleaded guilty to the murder of a man found stabbed to death in his own home.

Jackie Murray McDowell (40), of Laharna Avenue, Larne, had been due to go trial in September this year for the murder of Laurence Shaw after previously denying the charge.

Laurence Shaw

Laurence Shaw

The body of the 56-year-old former joiner was found inside his Hillmount Gardens home in Larne’s Seacourt estate on Sunday, October 8, 2017.

His brother John said at the time that the family had been left “traumatised” over the murder.

The victim, known locally as ‘Lornie’ Shaw, was found in the property with his throat cut.

At Belfast Crown Court on Friday, defence counsel Charles MacCreanor QC asked Judge David McFarland for McDowell to be re-arraigned on the murder charge.

When the charge was put to him by the clerk of the court, McDowell, who was dressed in court in a blue suit and white open-necked shirt, replied: “Guilty.”

Prosecution counsel Jackie Orr QC applied for two charges of arson and perverting the course of justice “to be left on the books and not to be proceeded with without the leave of this court or the Court of Appeal”.

Belfast Recorder Judge McFarland granted the request.

Addressing the defendant, the judge said: “Mr McDowell, you have pleaded guilty to murder and the only sentence open to this court is one of life imprisonment and I am imposing that sentence now.”

Judge McFarland fixed a date for a tariff hearing for Tuesday, July 2 when a probation report and victim impact statements will made available to the court.

“That means that on that date I will set the minimum period of the life sentence you will have to serve before you will be eligible to apply for parole,” said the Belfast Recorder.

“It will ultimately then be up to the parole commissioners to decide if you are released and if any conditions will be imposed.”

Remanding him back into custody until the tariff hearing, the Belfast Recorder told members of the prison staff: “Take him down.”

As he was being led away into handcuffs from the court, a member of the Shaw family sitting in the public gallery shouted: “Coward.”