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Two men convicted of 'axe' murder

15 December 09 17:28 GMT

Two men have been found guilty of the murder of a man who was hacked to death in front of his seven-year-old daughter and his heavily pregnant wife.

John Mongan, a father of three, died after the men smashed their way into his home in west Belfast last February.

Christopher Stokes, from Great James Street in Londonderry and Edward Stokes, from Cornshell Fields, also in the city, were unanimously convicted.

The jury has not yet reached a verdict on charges faced by a 16-year-old boy.

'50 wounds'

The teenager, who cannot be named because of his age, is charged with murder and criminal damage.

During the trial, the assistant state pathologist who examined Mr Mongan's body told the court he had identified between 40 and 50 wounds which had been inflicted by least two bladed weapons, possibly an axe and a sword.

During the trial, the victim's wife, Julia Mongan, who was due to give birth the day after the murder, described how she had pleaded with the intruders not to attack him.

In her evidence, she stated that both she and her seven-year-old daughter had witnessed the murder at their Fallswater Street home and she named all three defendants as the killers.

The jury also heard how a mobile phone belonging to 38-year-old Christopher Stokes was tracked leaving Derry and going to west Belfast at the time of the killing.

DNA match

The same phone was then tracked moving onto Kesh, where an Isuzu Trooper - allegedly used as a getaway vehicle after the murder - was found burnt out.

The trial was also told that a shirt belonging to 34-year-old Edward Stokes was found to have small blood smear on the back of it which, when examined, was found to be an exact match of Mr Mongan's DNA.

Both Christopher and Edward Stokes were also found guilty of causing criminal damage to Mr Mongan's Mitsubishi Shogun which was parked outside his house.

In addition to not reaching a verdict on the 16-year-old, the jury has not yet come to a decision about a wounding charge faced by Edward Stokes.

The judge, Mr Justice Treacy, sent the jury home for the evening and told them to come back on Wednesday morning when he would give them further directions.

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