Alan Lewis- 22-6-2023 Murder victim William ‘Pat’ McCormick. Court Copy by Ashleigh McDonald via AM News Mobile : 07968 698207

A FORMER Comber man who subjected a father-of-four to a ‘brutal and sustained assault’ and then disposed of his body in a lake will spend 16 years behind bars.

Thirty year-old David Gill meted out a fatal beating on William ‘Pat’ McCormick at a block of flats at Castle Street in Comber, before placing his remains upside down in a wheelie bin which he dumped in a lake.

As he handed Gill a 16-year sentence, Mr Justice Scoffield said the 55-year old deceased was ‘no physical match’ for Gill who was ‘twice his size’.

A post mortem revealed Mr McCormick sustained 24 broken ribs caused by blunt force trauma, as well as fracturing to the nasal bones and bruising to the back and chest.

At last week’s hearing, a total of five people were sentenced for charges arising out of Mr McCormick’s murder.

Twenty five year-old Lesley Ann Dodds helped to lure McCormick to her flat via both text and Facebook messenger messages, and was not present when the fatal attack occurred.

From Queen Victoria Gardens in Belfast, she admitted a charge of manslaughter and was handed a five-and-a-half year sentence which was divided equally between prison and licence.

As he sent Dodds to jail, Mr Justice Scoffield said he accepted she was aware Gill was going to attack Mr McCormick but ‘she did not realise things would go as far as they did.”

On the morning of the murder Gill sent a message to Mr McCormick’s wife telling her her husband was having an affair with his fiancee.

Dodds was in contact with both Gill and Mr McCormick that day, and that evening messages were sent from Dodds phone and Facebook account – which Gill also had access to – asking him to call to her flat.

The court heard David Gill had travelled to Dodds’ flat but she had remained at David Gill’s house and used her laptop as she continued to message both men.

Mr Justice Scoffield said that Mr McCormick rather ‘prophetically’ had replied to one of Dodds’ messages saying, ‘I  think you’re trying to set me up for a kicking, are you’.

At 10.33pm Mr McCormick called the police and reported he was fearful that David Gill was at his girlfriend’s flat and was worried he was going to get a beating.

The judge described as ‘curious and depressing’ that Mr McCormick, having been in contact with the police, and having seen David Gill’s van in the street,  went on ahead to the flat. The last time he was seen alive was when he was captured on CCTV at 10.47pm walking along Castle Street.

Gill later claimed he left after an altercation with Mr McCormick, but said the older man was alive when he left the flat. He later returned the following morning and disposed of the body.

The judge said David Gill stole a black wheelie bin and placed Mr McCormick’s body in the bin, before securing it with a strap and weighing it down with concrete blocks. He then drove to a flooded quarry that is used as a fishing lake in Ballygowan and dumped the bin. It would be a further six weeks before Mr McCormick’s body would be recovered from the bottom of the lake.  

Turning to the three remaining defendants, the judge said they were involved in the ‘aftermath and cover up’ and  sentenced them on charges of with-holding information.

David Gill’s brother William Gill (43), from Terrace View in Waringstown, received a call from his younger brother on May 31. He travelled to Comber that day and spent several hours in David’s company before returning home.

Jonathon Richard Leslie Montgomerty (24), from Castle Espie Road in Comber, was called by David Gill in the early hours of May 31. His garden was used to burn contents that were removed from the wheelie bin which Mr McCormick was placed into.

Andrew Leslie (24), from Mourne Crescent in Moneyrea, is a nephew of David Gill’s. At the relevant time, he was house-siting at the property in Ballygowan where Mr McCormick’s body was dumped in the lake.

William Gill was handed a one-year sentence suspended for two years whilst both Montgomery and Leslie were handed 15 months sentences which were also suspended for two years

Addressing the trio, Mr Justice Scoffield said they were free to go but told them ‘your convictions are themselves a stain on your character for your involvement in this gruesome and sorry affair’.