Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK: Northern Ireland
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

BBC NI's Mervyn Jess reports
The Poytnzpass murders 'will live in infamy" in Northern Ireland's troubled history
 real 28k

Wednesday, 2 February, 2000, 13:50 GMT
Murder pair qualify for early release

Noel McCready (right): Smirked as he was found guilty

Two men found guilty of the double murder of lifelong friends from acros Northern Ireland's sectarian divide could be free by July this year.

Stephen McClean, 30, of Hillside Park in Banbridge and Noel McCready, 33, of Dickson Park in Seapatrick, Banbridge received life sentences for the double murder in Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday.

Protestant Philip Allen, 34, and his Catholic friend Damien Trainor, 25, died in a hail of bullets when loyalist gunmen burst into the Railway Bar in Poyntzpass, County Armagh, as they discussed Mr Allen's forthcoming wedding.

But because the convictions relate to murders convicted before the Good Friday Agreement, the two defendants are likely to qualify for early release.

The time the defendants spent in remand will mean that they will have served the two years minimum necessary to qualify for the early release scheme.

Both McClean and McCready are reported to have smirked and laughed with each other in the dock when the guilty verdicts were handed down by Mr Justice Kerr.

Damien Trainor Damien Trainor: Was going to be best man
Relatives of the victims gasped with relief as Mr Justice Kerr announced his findings.

A third man, Ryan Hobley of Seafield Gardens in Banbridge, who had already admitted his role in the murders, also received a life sentence. He also qualifies for early release.

A fourth man accused of the murder, David Keyes, was himself murdered while on remand in the Loyalist Volunteer Force wing of the Maze Prison near Belfast.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Kerr said events in Poyntzpass had acquired "infamy as among the most heinous offences in the history of Northern Ireland".

Stpehen McClean: Convicted of double murder
He said: "There can be little doubt that this attack was carried out by loyalist terrorists." The bar was targeted in the belief that it was frequented only by Catholics but in that judgment the killers "could not have been more mistaken", the judge added.

The Railway Bar was frequented by Catholics and Protestants which reflected the fact that people of different religions in the town lived peacefully together.

This attitude could not have been better exemplified by the two young men who were killed on that fateful night and who had been friends since childhood, the judge said.

Philip Allen: Was discussing wedding plans with his friend Philip Allen:Discussing wedding plans
"That they could have been victims of this cowardly attack is made all the more poignant by the fact that the killers who perpetuated it were motivated by mindless bigotry," he added.

The judge also saluted the "courage and dignity" demonstrated by people from Poyntzpass called to give evidence during the trial last year. They had spoken "without a trace of bitterness or anger".

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console

See also:
10 Nov 99 |  Northern Ireland
Shooting victim knew he was dying
08 Nov 99 |  Northern Ireland
Witness thought attack was 'prank'
Links to other Northern Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Northern Ireland stories