Northern Ireland

Michael McIlveen murder: Jeff Colin Lewis to serve at least eight years

Michael McIlveen died in May 2006
Image caption Michael McIlveen died in May 2006

A man who was described in court as having played a "secondary role" in the murder of a Catholic schoolboy has been told he will serve a minimum of eight years of a life sentence.

Michael McIlveen, who was known as Mickey Bo, died after being beaten and kicked in an alleyway in Ballymena in 2006.

Jeff Colin Lewis from Rossdale, was part of the group of attackers.

He was the last person to be sentenced in connection with the murder.

Michael McIlveen died in hospital after he was chased and attacked by a group of Protestant youths in Ballymena on 6 May.

Belfast Crown Court heard the 15-year old victim was chased down an alleyway where he became embroiled in a fight with Lewis, who is now 24, but was 17 at the time of the murder.

The court heard Michael McIlveen "was bettering" Lewis, when he was approached by other members of the gang, one of whom hit him on the head with a baseball bat that had been picked up from a nearby home.

While he was on the ground, he was attacked and kicked by a number of people, including Lewis. The head injuries sustained from being struck with the baseball bat proved fatal.

During hearing to set the tariff, the minimum term Lewis would serve before he could be considered for parole, the prosecutor said the events that led to Michael's death began at the Seven Towers leisure centre.

Michael and his friends fled from the gang, who had been drinking, but were pursued to the alleyway at Granville Drive.

The prosecutor said it was accepted that Lewis played a "secondary role in the murder of Michael McIlveen".

A defence barrister told the court that while there was a sectarian element to the attack, it also involved "immature drunken youths behaving badly."

Remorse

He said his client "played a peculiar, but particular part in this murder". He said Lewis was not aware of the presence of a baseball bat until Michael was attacked with it, and instead of removing himself from the scene, Lewis made the "dire error" of kicking the teenager as he lay on the ground.

He also said his client had expressed genuine remorse for this role in Michael's death, and had suffered a "complete mental breakdown" while in prison.

Branding the incident as "tragic", the judge said the schoolboy died as the result of a sectarian attack.

He told Lewis that as Michael lay prone on the ground after being struck by the baseball bat, the injured teenager was "kicked by other members of the group who were present and you were a member of that group".

Lewis is the fourth man to be sentenced for the murder of Michael McIlveen.

Mervyn Wilson Moon, 25, from Douglas Terrace, Ballymena, is currently serving a minimum ten-year tariff after he pleaded guilty to his role. It was Moon who administered the fatal blow to the victim after striking him with the baseball bat.

Christopher Francis Kerr, 26, from Carnduff Drive, Ballymena, who lifted the baseball bat from a house close to where Michael was attacked, was given a minimum nine year tariff, while Aaron Cavana Wallace, 25, from Moat Road, in the town, is serving a minimum eight year tariff.