Northern Ireland

Albert Armstrong: Belfast man to serve minimum 14 years for Samurai sword murders

Albert Armstrong Image copyright Justin Kernoghan
Image caption Albert Armstrong, pictured before an earlier court appearance, is to serve at least 14 years in jail for the murders

A Belfast man who murdered two people in a Samurai sword attack will spend a minimum of 14 years in prison, a judge has told him.

Albert Armstrong, 47, admitted killing senior loyalist Colin 'Bap' Lindsay and his friend Stanley Wightman last July.

His two victims were found in the living room of Mr Lindsay's bungalow in south Belfast's Belvoir estate.

They were said to have suffered severe wounds inflicted by a sword and died from their "catastrophic injuries".

Last month, Armstrong, of Grays Park, Ballylenaghan Upper, was given a life sentence for what prosecutors said were "two very violent and brutal killings".

The court heard that Armstrong had gone to Mr Lindsay's home to fix a smoke alarm, but the three men then drank a "considerable quantity of both beer and vodka".

Several hours later, Armstrong returned to the home he shared with his partner.

She noticed blood on his hand and forehead and saw a blood-stained sword wrapped in jeans in his car.

Leading

The court heard that Armstrong told her he had killed the two men and claimed Mr Lindsay had lifted a hatchet and had struck him.

The prosecution told the court that Armstrong had asked his partner to help him gather his clothes to burn them in the garden, but police arrived and arrested him.

When officers arrived at Mr Lindsay's house, they found the 47-year-old father of two dead on a sofa.

Image copyright Alan Lewis
Image caption Stanley Wightman (left) and Colin 'Bap' Lindsay suffered "catastrophic injuries" in the attack

He had been a leading figure in the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), a loyalist paramilitary group.

Mr Wightman, 52, was found severely injured and "lying in a pool of his own blood" on the floor.

He almost had his hand severed as he tried to defend himself in the attack and died two days later.

Armstrong initially denied involvement in the murders, adding that he had abstained from alcohol for some time but had drank 10 tins of beer on the day before the incident.

Intention

He claimed that "both of them were at me" during the altercation in Mr Lindsay's house.

He added that he lashed out and he could not remember how many times he hit them.

A prosecutor said that the victims' injuries showed there was a "clear intention to kill" both men, and that Armstrong himself had no wounds.

At a tariff hearing at Belfast Crown Court on Friday, a judge said the victims sustained "multiple incisive wounds to the neck" that had been caused by "considerable force with a Samurai sword".

The judge said Armstrong had not given a clear reason about "how the altercation had started'' or why he had inflicted such "catastrophic injuries" on his victims.

He said that his starting point for the sentence was 20 years, adding that Armstrong's "culpability was exceptionally high in this case".

But he said he would adjust the sentence on account of Armstrong's guilty pleas, that he had no history of violence, and that the attack was not premeditated.

The judge added that he had also taken into account the "moving impact statements" of the victims' families.

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