Brothers jailed for Strickland murder

Published Thursday, 10 April 2014
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Two brothers who acted as "secondary parties" in the murder of Comber man Phillip Strickland have been sentenced to a total to 13-and-a-half years in prison - a sentence which the victim's mother has described as "disgusting".

Brothers jailed for Strickland murder
Ian and Jason Weir. (© PSNI)

Ian and Jason Weir were both sentenced to life after they pleaded guilty to the murder of the 36-year-old farm labourer, who was killed on the outskirts of Comber on 11 January, 2012.

Mr Strickland was ambushed and shot in the leg in a yard on the Ballyglighorn Road, bundled into the back of his own car and driven a short distance to the Ballydrain Road before being shot in the face at point blank range.

Ian Hugh Weir, who is 28 and from Raffery Road in Crossgar, was told he will serve a period of four years in custody until he is considered eligible for release by the Parole Commissioner.

Sentencing Ian Weir, Mr Justice Weir said that while the minimum starting point should be 12 years, he was reducing his sentence as he had given evidence against his father Jimmy Seales. This co-operation with the Crown, the Judge said, undoubtedly helped to convict his father.

Credit was also given for the fact that Ian Weir pleaded guilty at an early stage.

He was also handed a concurrent eight-year sentence for possessing a firearm with intent, four years of which will be spent in custody with the remaining four years on supervised licence upon release.

His brother Jason, who is 27 and from Comber Road in Carryduff, was also given credit for his guilty plea and will serve a sentence of nine and a half years before he is considered eligible for release.

Mr Justice Weir described the assault on Mr Strickland as a "planned attack upon a vulnerable individual" during which there was an assembly of people to "outnumber and overpower him."

He also said the victim was humiliated and degraded" before the fatal shot was fired.

The Judge said the Weir brothers were "secondary parties who remained at the scene and who failed to disassociate yourselves after the firearm was discharged on the first occasion."

Addressing Ian, the Judge said he accepted both brothers had a violent upbringing living with a father who "tried to bend you both to his will" and who had a "strong psychological grip" on them.

Mr Justice Weir told the court that Ian described his father in a probation report as "an angry wee man" which the Judge felt was a "fair description."

At an early court hearing, defence barrister Frank O'Donoghoe QC pointed out that Ian and his brother "are significantly less culpable than their father for this murder" and that within a short space of time Ian "came clean" and "acknowledged his wrong-doing."

Referring to Jason Weir, the Judge said he and Ian had had a "miserable childhood" which had been lived "under the thumb of a bullying and domineering" father.

The Judge said that it was Jason who had alerted his father to the presence of Mr Strickland in the yard and at a previous court hearing, he said that if Jason hadn't initiated the attack, Mr Strickland would still be alive.

Arthur Harvey QC, barrister for Jason, pointed out that Jason "couldn't have imagined the full extent of the response of his father" when he arrived at the yard.

As the Weir brothers were led from the dock, Mr Strickland's grieving mother sat yards away in the dock. Clearly upset, she was overheard saying she was "disgusted" at the "ridiculous sentence."

Jason and Ian's father Jimmy Seales and co-accused Stephen McCaughey - who both denied the murder charge but who were convicted by a jury in February - are due to be sentenced on Friday.

© UTV News
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12 Comments
john in bangor wrote (197 days ago):
they were assisting offenders turned queens evidence, thats the reward a reduced sentence.
Joe Bloggs in Newtownards wrote (197 days ago):
With respect to the previous posters, these two did not commit the murder. The other pair still waiting to be sentenced will be dealt with a lot more harshly i'm sure...
norman.d in bangor wrote (198 days ago):
No wonder violence and murder has increased the law is a joke 4years for murder you get longer for not paying the rates on your house
Sickened in Belfast wrote (198 days ago):
The level of punishment and deterrent is nos very low in many cases. In a murder case this is cheapening life and for victims families is horrendous.
Will C in Hamburg wrote (198 days ago):
To whom does the man on the street in N. Ireland best need to address their grievances to regarding the unjust sentences regularly being given through the ciurt system ? If 90 % of the population are unhappy with the legal and sentencing system then it myst be changed ....... what planet are these judges living on , LISTEN to the people out there !
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