Northern Ireland

Finbar McGrillen and Caron Smyth subjected to 'savage attack', murder trial told

Ravenhill Court
Image caption Mr McGrillen, 42, and Ms Smyth, 40, were found dead at Ravenhill Court, Belfast

Two friends who were beaten to death in east Belfast were subjected to a "savage" and "overwhelming" attack, a jury has been told.

The bodies of Caron Smyth, 40, and Finbar McGrillen, 42, were discovered in Mr McGrillen's apartment at Ravenhill Court, on 13 December 2013.

On Tuesday, Shaun Patrick Joseph Hegarty, 34, admitted murdering his ex-partner Ms Smyth and Mr McGrillen.

Ciaran Nugent, 33, denies two charges of murder.

Mr Nugent, formerly from the Simon Community in west Belfast, is on trial at Belfast Crown Court.

Ms Smyth and Mr McGrillen sustained multiple injuries including fractured ribs and damaged organs, as well as scores of internal and external wounds to the head, neck and chest.

Ms Smyth also suffered facial wounds consistent with being cut with a knife.


Crown counsel said it was the prosecution case that both Mr Nugent and Hegarty walked from the north of the city to the east in the early hours of Thursday, 12 December 2013, and that they both went into Mr McGrillen's flat, where both the occupant and his friend were murdered.

The court was told that the movements of both men were captured on CCTV as they made their way to Mr McGrillen's flat. The prosecutor added that the pair were again observed on CCTV making their way from the scene to Botanic Avenue later that morning.

The court heard Mr Nugent admitted walking from Grainne House to Ravenhill Court with Hegarty in the early hours of 12 December 2013, but denied he was involved in the double murder.

He also told police it was a "barbaric attack", but said he was not prepared to "tout" on his friend, as for him that would be a "death sentence".

Mr Nugent's denials have been rejected by the Crown, who said that he was "jointly involved" in the deaths of the two victims.

The jury also heard that Mr Nugent's DNA was found on a mop bucket at the murder scene.

The alarm was raised at about 14:45 BST on Friday 13 December by a paperboy, who noticed a smashed window and the front door of the flat lying open.

He called 999 to report a suspected burglary, and when police officers arrived they discovered the bodies of the deceased lying on a duvet on the living room floor, with a mop placed across them and a bottle of bleach beside them.

Officers also noted that a sock worn by Mr McGrillen had scorch marks on it.

The jury was told that Ms Smyth met Hegarty in the summer of 2013, and that they had lived together in Drumaness for about five months before they separated, on 8 December.

She was staying with Mr McGrillen, a friend, when they were murdered.

'Innocent people'

The Crown prosecutor said: "We know that Sean Hegarty has admitted his involvement in these murders. The defendants are on CCTV together travelling to the flat of Finbar in the early hours of Thursday the 12th of December.

"After 4.25am they are not seen again until 6.44am and it's reasonable to conclude that Sean Hegarty and Ciaran Nugent were in the flat for a period of between one and two hours - or at the very least a significant period of time.

"The mobile phone contact is silent during that time. They were together at that time, there is no evidence they were not together at that time. They were, we say, together killing two innocent people.

"They were grabbing, punching, kicking, stamping and cutting two victims. It was savage and it was overwhelming."

The prosecutor said that Mr Nugent was "present when this savagery was going on", that he "hasn't given a detailed account of what happened" and that he was part of the clean-up after two people were beaten to death.

The trial continues.

Related Topics

More on this story