Five people have been sentenced in connection with the murder of William McCormick, also known as Pat, in Comber in May 2019.
David Gill, 30, was sentenced to at least 16 years imprisonment after pleading guilty to the murder of Mr McCormick. Gill’s former partner Lesley Ann Dodds was sentenced to five and a half years, with half to be served in custody, after she pleaded guilty to the manslaughter in connection with the father of four’s death.
Three other men – Gill’s brother, William Gill (43), Andrew Leslie (24) and Jonathan Montgomery (24) – also admitted withholding information concerning an arrestable offence received suspended sentences.
Mr McCormick, who was 55, had been in a brief relationship with Dodds before his death and her fiancé Gill had found out.
PPS Senior Public Prosecutor Keith Harbinson said: “This was a brutal and callous attack against a defenceless man that shocked the community. It has left Mr McCormick’s family, including his four children, grieving.
“On May 30, 2019, Mr McCormick received messages from Dodds' Facebook account, saying she had left Gill and asking him to come to her flat in Comber. It was the last time Mr McCormick was seen alive. Dodds herself was not at the flat where Gill fatally attacked Mr McCormick.
“Mr McCormick’s family waited for news for almost six weeks until divers found his body during police searches in a lake in Ballygowan on July 9. A post-mortem examination showed that the cause of death was the multiple rib fractures he had suffered.
“The next day, Gill was seen on CCTV footage coming and going from the flat, and he accepted that he later disposed of Mr McCormick’s body in the lake.
“The team from the PPS’s Serious Crime Unit worked closely with the Police Service of Northern Ireland from an early stage of their investigation into Mr McCormick’s disappearance and murder to bring a robust prosecution case including forensic, CCTV and witness evidence, and phone records. This resulted in the guilty pleas, sparing Mr McCormick’s family the ordeal of a trial.
“No outcome can change the loss Mr McCormick’s family have suffered. However, we hope that the conclusion of these proceedings gives them some measure of comfort.”