Would-be robber jailed for Kerr murder
A man has been jailed for life after being convicted of murdering a father-of-four in his Templepatrick home, in front of his wife and youngest son, during a "robbery gone wrong".
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
Sixty-year-old financial advisor and gun enthusiast, Geoff Kerr, was shot dead as two men tried to steal his legally held handguns in April 2009.
On Tuesday, 35-year-old Darren Kernohan - from Moss Drive in Antrim - was unanimously found guilty of Mr Kerr's murder by a jury of nine men and three women at Belfast Crown Court.
He showed no reaction to the verdict, staring straight ahead as it was delivered after 90 minutes of deliberation.
The victim's wife, Sally, and four sons simply exclaimed "Yes", as they sat just feet away behind protective glass in the public gallery.
Ordering Kernohan to stand, Mr Justice Hart said: "The law requires and permits one sentence to be imposed in relation to a charge of murder - that's one of life imprisonment and I sentence you to life imprisonment."
The minimum term he will spend behind bars will be set next month, when probation pre-sentence reports and victim impact reports have been completed.
During the six-day hearing, the jury heard how Kernohan and his accomplice - Martin Fleming, 51 - forced their way into the Kerr family home on 27 April 2009 to steal legal firearms.
But, in an act of bravery, Mr Kerr tackled Kernohan and was hitting him over the head with a heavy antique soup dish when Kernohan shot him once through the heart - killing him almost instantly.
Speaking outside the court, Mrs Kerr said her "irreplaceable" husband had shown "immense courage in the face of intense violence and terror".
The emotional widow added: "In losing his own life, he saved not only my life but that of our youngest son Adam," and that Mr Kerr "is and will always be our own true hero".
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Jonathan Roberts, described the impact of Mr Kerr's murder on his family as "immeasurable".
He added: "Geoff Kerr was a professional, hard working, family man whose death was a devastating loss - not only for his family and friends - but also for the wider community.
"Today's conviction means two men have now been deemed guilty of Geoff's murder, but it is important to remember that there were five people involved in these tragic events.
"The other three played lesser roles, but they lied to police to protect others - they tried to prevent this investigation from reaching a successful conclusion.
"They may have thought they could just stand on the sidelines and would escape the law, but the team of detectives investigating Geoff's murder pursued them with the same vigour and determination as they pursued the killers.
"Those who seek to protect murderers by withholding information or impeding a police investigation, in whatever circumstances, can always expect to face justice."