Detectives from PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch have welcomed the conviction of County Antrim man, Michael Gerard Owens for the murder of Robert Flowerday in Crumlin last year.
The body of Mr. Flowerday was found in his home at Mill Road in Crumlin on Sunday, 28th January.
Police were called to his home after a member of the public raised concerns about him.
When officers arrived at Mr. Flowerday’s home they discovered his body inside.
Owens, aged 35 and from Glenavy, was arrested on 30th January, subsequently charged and he pleaded guilty to the murder of Mr. Flowerday at Belfast Crown Court on 3rd October of this year.
Owens also admitted one charge of burgling Mr Flowerday’s home on an unknown date between 27th January and 30th January, 2018.
Today (Friday 20 December) Owens was told he would serve a minimum of 16 years 6 months years in jail before he can apply for parole.
Speaking after sentencing, Detective Inspector Michelle Griffin: “The murder of 64 year old retired schoolteacher Robert Flowerday was brutal and totally senseless and today his killer has received a life prison sentence with a minimum of 16 years 6 months before he can apply for parole.
“Robert was a man of faith who dedicated his life to educating children of both primary and secondary school age.
“On the day of his murder on Sunday 28th January 2018 he attended church in the morning and had tutored a child in the afternoon.
“It was while he was at home in Crumlin getting ready to go to the home of another student for a tutoring session that Michael Owens broke into the one place Robert should have felt safe and carried out the savage killing.
“Robert was beaten viciously with a hammer , poker and an axe over a prolonged period and sadly he died from his injuries.
“Mr Owens not only subjected Robert to a horrendous death, he then tried to start a fire to hide his horrific crime.
“A crime he carried out solely for the purpose of stealing money to feed his drugs and alcohol habit.
“Mr Owens then disposed of his outer clothes to get rid of evidence but thanks to the hard work of my detectives we were able to uncover DNA on his belt and a plastic bag he used as a mask as he carried out his ruthless attack.
“I would like to thank the Crumlin community for their help in this investigation.
“In particular the family that Robert was due to visit that evening who raised the alarm with police that he had not arrived for their child’s tutoring session.
“I’d like to pay tribute to the member of the public who on hearing our appeal phoned police to name Michael Owens as the suspect.
“This demonstrates the powerful results that can be achieved when communities and police work together.
“I would also like to thank Robert’s family for their dignity and patience throughout this investigation.
“I know today’s sentencing will not take away their loss or pain but I hope it will allow them to start to grieve properly.
Statement from Alan Flowerday, Robert’s brother
“The family has been devastated by Robert’s murder and our hearts ripped apart.
“Today, after almost 2 years, we hear the judge committing this brutal murderer to life in prison with a tariff of 16 years 6 months.
“This is not justice for taking our brother’s life so cruelly.
“Life should mean life. Here we are the victims of our brother’s murder, suffering the loss , feeling the agony of the torture to which Robert was subjected to and then as tax payers footing the bill for his legal aid and his accommodation in Maghaberry.
“Not only have we lost a brother but the community of Crumlin have lost someone they loved and so many children have lost out on his amazing teaching skills.
“He helped anyone and did so on a regular basis crossing communities and bringing people together. No job was too much for him.
“Robert’s house which was once the happy, warm and welcoming family home is a cold, desolate shell that presents a constant reminder of the heinous crime, the tragedy, the cruelty, the torture and the pain.
“We would like to thank those who came forward with information to make today’s verdict possible and we must give a huge thank you to the PSNI and PPS and especially our Family Liaison Officers, Gill and Jon, who have supported us throughout, talking us through the various stages and keeping us informed.
“Our family will never be the same; it has drained each of us of the zest for life, the stress has taken its toll on us all and has contributed to and exacerbated the health of our other two brothers.
“Hopefully, after today we can begin our journey back to some sort of normality.”