Ward appeals sentence for murdering Marcell Seeley

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Judgment was reserved on Monday in a convicted murderer’s legal bid to secure a reduced sentence for beating and stamping his victim to death.

Mark Ward is appealing the minimum 16-year prison term he received for killing father-of-four Marcell Seeley in Lurgan.

Mark Daniel Ward.

Mark Daniel Ward.

Mr Seeley’s body was discovered in the living room of his Dingwell Park flat in October 2015.

The 34-year-old victim, also known as Junior, died from blunt force trauma to the head.

He had also sustained multiple injuries, including fractures to his ribs and a bone just above his voice box.

A pathologist concluded that he would have survived for several hours after the attack.

Marcell Seeley

Marcell Seeley

Ward, 27, from Drumellan Gardens in Craigavon, denied murdering Mr Seeley - a man he was said to have known for around a decade.

But a jury found him guilty after footprints found at the scene linked him to the attack.

A distinctive sole pattern was matched to shoes worn by Ward in CCTV footage of him walking towards the victim’s home on the night of the killing.

Last year Ward failed in a bid to overturn his murder conviction.

His lawyers claimed jurors were not properly directed on how his level of drunkenness impacted on the intent to kill Mr Seeley.

He had consumed two half-bottles of vodka, around 10 beers and taken cocaine over a 10-hour period on the night in question, it was contended.

But after judges dismissed the challenge to his conviction Ward’s legal team returned to the Court of Appeal on Monday in an attempt to have his jail term cut.

Charles McCreanor QC argued that the circumstances were different to another case where two brothers initially received 17-year sentences for a “sustained, merciless and brutal” killing in east Belfast.

William and James Turner admitted murdering Matthew Goddard, who was battered with an electric guitar and stamped on in December 2014.

Mr McCreanor insisted, however, his client had not left Mr Seeley to die.

“The trial judge charged the jury that Ward did not necessarily know the attack was fatal,” counsel said.

“He may have known he injured somebody, but not necessarily how serious the injury was.”

The court was told it should at least have been on the borderline for the normal starting point in sentencing.

Reserving judgment, Lord Justice Deeny said it was a “weighty matter” and pledged to give a decision in due course. ends