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Man admits withholding information in savage murder of Pat Ward

Pat Ward
Pat Ward was killed in Clogher in February 2019

A man has admitted withholding information in respect of the savage murder of Pat Ward, which occurred five years ago next month.

The victim, a 30-year-old married father of four children, suffered severe head trauma and stab wounds, before being dragged from the scene and abandoned half-naked in an alleyway.

William Hamilton, 49, from McCaughey Terrace, Fintona but previously of McCrea Park in Clogher – scene of the shocking slaying – admitted knowing or believing that an offence namely murder had been committed on February 9, 2019 and having information likely to secure or be of material assistance in securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of some person for that offence, failed to give it to police.

Apart from the charge being read, no details surrounding the circumstances of Hamilton’s offending were disclosed during the short hearing at Dungannon Crown Court, where he spoke only to confirm his identity and enter a guilty plea.

Related: Pair sentenced for roles in ‘gratuitously violent’ killing of Pat Ward

A defence barrister advised he has directed psychiatric reports are obtained which will take some time.

Pre-sentence reports are also to be prepared.

Judge Fiona Bagnall remanded Hamilton on continuing bail of £500 bail to return for sentencing on April 23.

When previously applying for Legal Aid to be extended to cover barrister fees for the committing hearing, the defence said: “There were various issues some of which have been taken away by extensive publicity.”

Niall Cox, 28, and Karen Marie McDonald, 38, both of McCrea Park in Clogher are serving prison sentences for murder and manslaughter respectively, which were handed down in September.

Hamilton was a neighbour of the couple and it is understood had CCTV footage of Cox dragging the brutally injured victim from McDonald’s house, across a road before abandoning him in an alleyway during the early hours.

His body was discovered later that morning by a couple walking to work who raised the alarm.

As police broke the news to Mr Ward’s distraught family, officers were arresting Cox and McDonald and conducting searches of their home.

Forensic examination revealed blood in just about every room in the house.

Both were later charged with murder and while Cox admitted this ahead of trial, McDonald insisted she was innocent.

During her trial at Dungannon Crown Court earlier this year, a second charge of manslaughter was added which she also denied.

However, while the jury cleared her of murder, she was convicted of the alternative charge of manslaughter.

In evidence, Professor Jack Crane said Mr Ward sustained horrific injuries stating, he died “as a result of injuries … having been beaten, kicked, stabbed and struck a number of times to the head with a heavy, blunt elongated object … extensive blood loss, combined with the head and chest injuries were responsible for rapid but not immediate death”.

Professor Crane said there is some evidence Mr Ward survived for a least 30 minutes after sustaining severe head trauma.

He agreed a significant degree of force was used to inflict the injuries which led to severe bleeding particularly from the head wound and it was possible the injuries were caused in more than one location.

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