Richard MiskellyImage copyright Miskelly family
Image caption Richard Miskelly died at the roadside after he was attacked at a house in Newtownards

A man has been given a life sentence after admitting beating a 24-year-old man to death in Newtownards.

Father-of-one Rhys Magee pleaded guilty to a charge of murdering Richard Miskelly at Belfast Crown Court.

Despite the efforts of emergency services, Mr Miskelly died outside a house on the Bangor Road in the early hours of 26 February 2017.

Magee, 20, from Carrowdore Road in Newtownards, carried out the attack after consuming alcohol and ketamine.

After ordering Mr Miskelly to leave the house, Magee followed him down the driveway and subjected him to two separate attacks.

Change of plea

He initially denied murder and was due to stand trial next week.

However, his barrister asked that he be re-arraigned, and after speaking to confirm his name, Magee replied “guilty” when the charge of murdering Mr Miskelly was put to him again.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption A forensic tent was set up at the scene of Richard Miskelly’s murder

He was also charged with two counts of perverting the course of justice in the aftermath of the fatal beating.

It was the Crown’s case that Magee initially claimed he had just arrived at the scene in a taxi and came across Mr Miskelly lying on the ground.

He also told his friend “you came home an hour before me and you didn’t see anything”.

However, counsel for the Crown said that as these two charges were subsumed within the murder and asked that they be “left on the book” and not proceeded with.

After Magee admitted the murder charge, a mandatory life sentence was imposed.

A tariff hearing has been set for next month.

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