A CO Down window cleaner who “repeatedly stamped’’ on his victim’s head claiming it was self-defence was told on Wednesday he must serve a minimum of 12 years of his life sentence for murdering Coleraine man Mark Lamont.
Mr Justice Colton told 37-year-old Richard Hugh Jackie Dalzell he took the “view that this was a particularly serious assault which went well beyond that which could be considered self-defence or a fight for which there was legitimate justification.
“The assault is aggravated by the fact that the victim was clearly vulnerable as he was lying on the ground when his head was stamped upon repeatedly”. However Mr Justice Colton accepted there were some mitigating factors in Dalzell’s favour, he acted initially in self-defence, after being substantially provoked, and that this initial fight was spontaneous, and not preplanned or premeditated.
But the Antrim Crown Court judge, sitting in Belfast’s Laganside Courthouse declared “these mitigating features have to be judged in the context of what I consider to be a serious, sustained and senseless assault upon a victim who was in a vulnerable position”.
He also said his crimes were further aggravated by fleeing the scene in the aftermath to evade police, but not before he had also threatened a woman by “invoking the name of a paramilitary group”, the UDA.
Mr Justice Colton said the reading of victim impact reports into this “tramatic and unnecessary death” should make him understand “ extent of the damage” that he has caused.
Later speaking outside court Karl Lamont, son of Mark Lamont said that while ,”no sentence today will bring my dad back. In my opinion life should mean life”.
Karl said that the family still “miss him every day,” and while adding again that “no sentence will take away the pain and the hurt this family has suffered over the past 18 months, it’s now time to pick things up and move on as a family.”
Dalzell from Whinpark in Newtownards, who smiled and waved to friends in a packed public gallery, had claimed he had “got the better” of 54-year-old Mr Lamont, one of three hooded men who initially walked in on Dalzell and his girlfriend Deborah Ramsey.
The father of three was found in a critical condition, lying in a pool of blood outside her Ballycastle Road, home of in the early hours of September 26, 2016. Although later transferred from the local Causeway Coast Hosiptal to Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital, he never regained consciousness and died just over two weeks later on October 11.
The previous day Dalzell and Ms Ramsey had spent the day drinking, but it was full of arguing and “verbal exchanges” with Mr Lamont two of his friends, one of which had been in a previous relationship with Ms Ramsey.
Having left the bar, still arguing, Dalzell and Ms Ramsey returned to her Ballycastle Road home, but while “engaging in sexual intercourse’’, they were confronted by a masked and hooded Mr Lamont and friend. The soon left, but unfortunately Mr Lamont returned, resulting in his fatal assault.
As Dalzell then made off he blamed Ms Ramsey telling her, “this is your fault”. And when he spotted a neighbour on her phone, shouted: “I’m in the UDA. You saw nothing.’’
When he later gave himself up to police, Dalzell claimed he’d been challenged a fight but he wasn’t “going to let myself get hit ... I won, I got the better of him ... We had a fight, he lost”.
But when asked if he kicked Mr Lamont to the head, Dalzell replied: “I’m not 100% (per cent) sure if I did or I didn’t .... it’s possible .... it was a fight and you do these things in the heat of the moment”.