Murder victim Laurence Shaw was stabbed in neck and chest by Jackie Murray McDowel

A CO Antrim man is today starting a minimum of 12 years behind bars for the brutal and horrific stab murder of Laurence Shaw.

Jackie Murray McDowell, (40), of Laharna Avenue in Larne, had previously pleaded guilty to Mr Shaw’s murder.

The 56-year-old was found stabbed to death at his home in Hillmount Gardens in Larne on October 8, 2017.

A post mortem examination revealed that the victim had suffered stab wounds to his neck and chest.

At Belfast Crown Court today, McDowell was told that he will spend a minimum of 12 years behind bars before he would be eligible to apply for parole.

But it would be up to the Parole Commissioners to decide if it was safe at that stage to release him back into the community or keep him behind bars for a longer period of time.

His sister Margaret Shaw said the murder was a “heinous” crime.

“It was a cold blooded, brutal murder on a defenceless man in his own home,” she said outside the court

“He was subjected to prolonged, brutal and merciless acts of violence before he met his untimely death.

“The acts displayed a high-level cruelty and an unprecedented disregard for human life.”

She added that their brother was well respected, loved and missed.

“He was the centre of our family. The chain is broken and we are missing a link,” she said.

Detectives from PSNI’s Major Investigation Team have welcomed the sentence handed down to McDowell.

Detective Inspector Joanne Harris said: “On Sunday 8 October 2017, 56-year-old Laurence Shaw was at his house in Hillmount Gardens, Larne.

“One of his friends called, accompanied by 40-year-old Jackie McDowell, also from Larne.

“He invited them both in and when just the two of them remained, Jackie murdered Laurence, slitting his throat in a senseless act of violence.

“Afterwards, Jackie set Laurence’s house on fire in a bid to cover his tracks and drove off, calmly stopping at a petrol station for some cigarettes.

“Laurence’s body was not discovered until the next day, brutally murdered in a place where he should have been safe.

“Laurence’s family have been left traumatised by their loss.

“Whilst nothing will take away their pain, I hope they get some comfort from knowing that his killer is now behind bars.”

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