murder accused  | 

Trial hears man allegedly stabbed Belfast woman to death before setting fire to house

Raymond Martin Gabriel O'Neill denies murder and a further charge of arson

Jennifer Dornan

Jamie McDowell

The trial has begun of a man accused of the murder of a woman in west Belfast in 2015.

Raymond Martin Gabriel O'Neill (43) denies the murder charge and denies a further charge of arson.

The court heard how Jennifer Dornan (30) had returned home to the Lagmore area after a night out when the defendant entered her home.

Mr O’Neill allegedly stabbed Ms Dornan before setting fire to the property.

A prosecuting barrister said Mr O’Neill stabbed Ms Dornan to death before setting fire to the house in order to “destroy the scene of his crime”.

Raymond O'Neill

When the fire service arrived at the house at 5am on Sunday, August 2, 2015, they found Ms Dornan’s body in the upstairs area.

A post mortem examination showed the house fire was not the cause of Ms Dornan’s death, and that she had been stabbed several times before the fire started.

The court was also shown CCTV footage from a neighbour's house showing Ms Dornan arriving home at around 2.50am on the day she died.

The footage showed a man climbing over the front fence to the property before going to the back door.

Later, on August 10, a knife was found in the garden of a property in the Lagmore area.

A prosecutor said: "The murderer disposed of that knife that he had used to kill Ms Dornan with, before throwing it over that fence into the garden as he made his way down Lagmore View.”

Mr O’Neill was initially arrested in Bundoran, Co Donegal.

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