Man to serve at least 12 years behind bars for cut-throat murder of Laurence Shaw

Jackie McDowell will spend at least 12 years in jail
Jackie McDowell will spend at least 12 years in jail

A 40-year old Co Antrim man was told on Tuesday that he will spent the next 12 years behind bars for the cut-throat murder of Larne man Laurence Shaw.

Jackie Murray McDowell was handed a life sentence in May after he admitted murdering Mr Shaw in the living room of his Hillmount Gardens home on October 8, 2017.

Laurence Shaw

Laurence Shaw

The 47-year old former joiner - known as Lornie - was found with knife wounds to his neck and chest after inviting McDowell into his home and socialising with him.

Mr Shaw’s grieving family were at Belfast Crown Court to watch McDowell being handed a minimum term of 12 years which he will serve before he is considered eligible for release by the Paroles Commission.

As McDowell was being led from back into custody by prison staff, Mr Shaw’s sister Margaret calmly pointed at the 40-year old, from Laharna Avenue in Larne, and said: “Do to yourself what you did to my brother. His life is worth more than 12 years.”

During a tariff hearing, details of what occurred in Mr Shaw’s home emerged, including an attempt made by McDowell to start a fire in what Judge David McFarland said was a bid to destroy the scene.

Prosecution barrister Jackie Orr said Mr Shaw’s body was found in his living room on October 9, 2017.

He had suffered a severe laceration to his neck, had been stabbed in the chest, and had tissue paper stuffed into his mouth.

It emerged that McDowell was taken to hospital on October 8 after he was struck by a car on the A8. He was rushed to hospital and was later arrested on suspicion of murder.

Mr Shaw died between 2.45pm and 4pm on October 8, and post mortem revealed he had a “considerable level” of alcohol in his system as well as cocaine and diazepam.

McDowell’s samples showed alcohol intake as well as cocaine, ketamine and tramadol.

Items of clothes belonging to McDowell bore Mr Shaw’s blood. Two knives were found in the living room, stained with Shaw’s blood.

Ms Orr said McDowell told police during interviews that he had been drinking and taking drugs, and that when he and Mr Shaw were sitting alone, talk turned to depression and suicide.

McDowell told police he lifted two knifes from the kitchen, and when he returned the living room Mr Shaw was on the sofa, and in speech that was slurred, he said to McDowell “kill me”.

He said he then slashed Mr Shaw’s throat from left to right.

Telling police his memory was “hazy”, McDowell said he went to a filling station, and a was struck by a car.

Defence barrister Charles MacCreanor QC said McDowell has expressed “regret, his shame and his disgust at the devastation he has caused” to the Shaw family.

Passing sentence, Judge McFarland spoke of the devastating impact the murder has had on the Shaw family, but said he accepted the killing had not been pre-planned.