Man must serve 17 years for ‘devastating’ attack which killed mother of four

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the mum of four was killed in December 2021

By Jonathan McCambridge and David Young (PA)

A man who subjected a mother-of-four to a “devastating” prolonged assault in her Belfast home has been told he must serve at least 17 years in prison for her murder.

Caoimhe Morgan, 30, was beaten to death by her partner Taylor George McIlvenna in December 2021.

McIlvenna, 33, from Highvale Gardens in Belfast, was sentenced at Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday.

The court heard that Ms Morgan’s body was found in her north Belfast home in December 2021.

Following the sentencing, a senior detective said it was heartbreaking that one of Ms Morgan’s children was found “trying to comfort his mother’s lifeless body”.

McIlvenna had originally denied the murder, but changed his plea to guilty in January.

Mr Justice McFarland told the court that McIlvenna had a long criminal record.

The court heard that the defendant and the victim had been in a relationship for six years, although they did not live together.

The judge said it had been a volatile relationship with incidents of domestic violence.

He said Ms Morgan’s mother had discovered her daughter’s body on her bedroom floor on the morning of December 18 2021.

McIlvenna was arrested later the same day.

Mr Justice McFarland said a post-mortem examination showed the victim had suffered a blunt force head injury which resulted in her death.

The court was told a pathologist’s report indicated her injuries were consistent with the application of at least 10 blows.

The judge said: “The deceased was murdered in her own home, a place where everyone is entitled to feel safe and secure.”

He added: “The deceased suffered a devastating attack involving multiple blows, collision with a hard surface which was almost certainly the bedroom wall, hair loss through pulling and an element of asphyxiation.

“The pattern of blood-spattering indicates that the attack was both downstairs and upstairs within the home and was therefore a prolonged incident.”

The judge said he had received victim impact statements from several members of Ms Morgan’s family.

He said: “Each, in its own way, is a document setting out the personal devastation suffered by the sudden death of a much-loved daughter, sister, sister-in-law and aunt.”

The judge said aggravating factors in the case included the fact that the victim was murdered in her own home and two of Ms Morgan’s children were in the house when she was killed.

He said mitigating factors included the fact that McIlvenna had displayed “elements of remorse” and his guilty plea.

McIlvenna had already been given a life sentence for the killing, and Wednesday’s hearing was to set the minimum term he must serve before he can be considered for release.

The judge told McIlvenna that he would have to serve 17 years in prison before he could be considered for parole.

Speaking following the sentencing, Detective Superintendent Darren McCartney said Ms Morgan was murdered in “a senseless and shocking act of violence”.

He said: “This was an attack, in her own home, that took her life and changed the lives of others forever.

“Four young children have been left without their loving mother.

“Heartbreakingly, one of the little ones was found at the scene trying to comfort his mother’s lifeless body.

“This is distressing beyond words.”

Mr McCartney continued: “This was a vicious and frenzied unprovoked assault during which McIlvenna struck the victim repeatedly, ultimately causing her death.

“Following her murder, he used the victim’s phone to send a series of texts to her family members, pretending to be the victim in an attempt to cover his tracks.”

He added: “The sorrow and heartache of Caoimhe’s family and friends won’t end with today’s sentencing.”

Jenny Burns, from the Public Prosecution Service, said: “This brutal murder has left Ms Morgan’s family and friends suffering tremendous grief.

“They have shown great dignity throughout these proceedings and I hope the conclusion of this case will help them to move forward as they continue to try to cope with their loss.”

30 year old Caoimhe Morgan

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