SECOND MAN FOUND GUILTY OF MURDERING PHILIP STRICKLAND

Comber murder victim Philip Strickland

Comber murder victim Philip Strickland

A SECOND man was found guilty on Tuesday of the murder of Philip Strickland over two years ago.

Stephen Charles McCaughey was sentenced to life imprisonment by trial judge Mr Justice Reg Weir after the jury of ten men and two women returned the guilty verdict after three days of deliberations.

McCaughey,  of Shackleton Walk, in the West Winds estate, Newtownards, was also found guilty of possessing a shotgun with intent to endanger life or damage property.

The 26-year-old was remanded in custody.

He will be sentenced within six weeks following the preparation of presentence reports.

Philip Strickland was blasted to death outside  Comber on January 11, 2012.

First Mr Strickland, 37, he was shot in the leg by farmer Jimmy Seales at Gills yard after pleading for his life.

The he was put in the boot of his blue Saxo car and driven to Ballydrain Road where a shotgun was put close to his head and then blasted at him,

McCaughey always denied murder claiming he went to the yard as muscle for Jason Weir who told him their would be a “scuffle”.

Jimmy Seales, 56,  from the Ballykeel Road in Hillsborough, was found guilty by the jury at Belfast Crown Court on Monday of murdering Mr Strickland and possessing a shotgun with intent.

Two of Seales’ sons, Ian and Jason Weir, both 29, have already admitted their role in the murder and are serving life sentences.

Chief Inspector Karen Baxter, who led the PSNI’S Serious Crime Branch investigation, said Mr Strickland had suffered a “brutal and cowardly death”.

“Those who knew Philip would accept he was not perfect but he was a hard worker who made the best of the skills he had to get work as a farm labourer, working long hours in all weathers and earn a living,” she said.

“Socially, he enjoyed life and liked to laugh but, tragically, sometimes Philip didn’t fully understand the consequences of his words or actions.

“A dispute with the Seales family, most notably on social media, sadly resulted in his murder.”

She said the “vast majority of the local community were shocked and outraged by Philip’s death”.

“Many people worked with us to provide information and assistance which has culminated in the guilty verdicts. I want to acknowledge their co-operation and thank people for working with us.

“Sadly, a small group of individuals did not co-operate.

“Some of them are among the nine individuals who have been charged and convicted for the roles they played in Philip Strickland’s murder.

“It is up to the court what happens to them now.”

 

 

 

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