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Thursday, 2 May, 2002, 20:12 GMT 21:12 UK
'Brutal killer' must serve 15 years
Murder scene
Victim's body was found in a terraced house
A 22-year-old Belfast man who carried out the "cold blooded murder" of a young woman must serve at least 15 years in prison, a judge has ruled.

Connor McCrory of Grangeville Gardens in Finaghy, was sentenced at Belfast Crown Court on Thursday for the murder of Maria McConnell two years ago.

Mr Justice Higgins stressed that having served the specified period did not necessarily mean McCrory would be freed.

The sentencing came nearly a month after he pleaded guilty to what the judge described as a "brutal and callous" murder.

Maria, 22, from Coolnasilla Park East, off the Glen Road in Belfast, was found dead in a house after being missing for nearly two weeks.

Maria McConnell
Maria McConnell had been missing for 13 days
She disappeared after visiting a Belfast nightclub on 14 July 2000.

Her body was found 12 days later in a terraced house at Canterbury Street in the university area of south Belfast.

The court heard that initially a burglar discovered Maria's naked body, gagged, her hands tied behind her back and lying face down on a blood-soaked bed.

He phoned the police to alert them to his find.

The young woman had been treated for depression and rarely ventured outside the family home until the night she went to the Brunswick Street club in Belfast.

BBC NI's Marie Louise Connolly reports
"There was silence as the 22-year-old was brought down"
BBC NI's Marie Louise Connolly:
"The court was silent as he was brought down"
See also:

08 Apr 02 | Northern Ireland
Man admits woman's murder
21 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Appeal for help to find missing girl
23 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Search intensifies for missing woman
26 Jul 00 | Northern Ireland
Hopes fade for missing woman
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